Belfast Telegraph

Watchdog blasts liver op failures

A teenage girl missed a vital liver transplant in London because of a lack of leadership and an unreliable system for arranging rapid air ambulance transport, a health watchdog has found.

Meadhbh McGivern lost out on the potentially life-changing operation last month because no-one was in charge and communications on the type of donor and a six-hour surgery deadline had broken down.

A report by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has called for a new 24/7 centre to be set up to co-ordinate transfer of patients by air.

HIQA chief executive Tracey Cooper said several state agencies had no organised or managed system or knowledge of logistics to fly Meadhbh to London.

"There was no conductor of the parts of the orchestra, so people were going on in their own little world desperately trying for a successful transportation," she said.

"But there was no single agency or individual ultimately accountable for ensuring that the right decisions were made at the right time.

"It was really all the ingredients of a perfect storm that night."

Meadhbh, 14, from Ballinamore, Leitrim, is still awaiting a donor.

A planned Irish Coast Guard transfer to King's College London was cancelled at the last minute on July 2 as the flight would not have met a 2am deadline for surgery. Several hours had lapsed since the family had been first offered the transplant.

The new 24-hour National Aeromedical Co-ordination Group will be set up by staff from government departments of health, transport and defence along with the Health Service Executive (HSE).

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