Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Probe after girl misses transplant

Health Minister James Reilly has called for an inquiry into the delay that led to vital surgery being called off

An inquiry has been ordered after a teenage girl missed out on a vital liver transplant in London because no aircraft could be sourced.

Meadhbh McGivern, 14, from Ballinamore, Co Leitrim was offered the surgery in King's College on Saturday evening, but four hours later plans for the life-changing surgery had to be called off due to delays in securing a flight.

A catalogue of calls between several agencies and the family appeared to show a breakdown in communications among teams arranging transport and Health Minister James Reilly, who spoke to the family, has called on watchdogs in the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) to investigate what happened.

Meadhbh's father Joe said he does not want another family to have their hopes dashed in the same way.

"Minister Reilly expressed his deep concern and sympathy to the McGivern family over the traumatic events that have led to this lost opportunity," a statement from the Department of Health said.

"Minister Reilly would like to assure the McGivern family that the purpose of the Hiqa inquiry is to ensure that their family and others in a similar predicament do not face such a heartbreaking outcome in future."

The McGiverns were alerted by King's Hospital staff at 7.20pm on Saturday that a potential non-heartbeating liver was available. There was a deadline of 2am to get Meadhbh to the hospital.

Several agencies were involved in making arrangements for transport - the Health Service Executive (HSE), Coastguard, Department of Transport, the Air Corps and the Emergency Medical Support Services (EMSS). Meadhbh has been waiting for a liver transplant for 11 months and is on a priority list.

"I never thought that in my wildest dreams that something like this would go wrong. I was assured all along all we had to do was pack our bags, have our passports ready. I was told to be in a certain place at a certain time," Mr McGivern said.

"I took everyone at their word. We are still spinning here especially after waiting 11 months and we are just wondering is this going to be another 11 months of watching our little girl just going through what she is going through and in constant pain."