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Parents of Belfast boy with heart condition fear impact of Brexit on cardiac services

Cross-border services are expected to continue
Cross-border services are expected to continue
Allan Preston

By Allan Preston

The parents of a Belfast boy who required heart surgery have said they fear a no-deal Brexit will disrupt cross-border children's cardiac services.

Joseph Loughran (7) needed life-saving surgery when he was born in 2012 after his heart stopped twice.

The major operation was carried out in the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, but since 2015 there have been no cardiac services for babies and children with serious heart conditions.

A review concluded a regional unit was no longer sustainable in Belfast, meaning parents must now travel to an all-Ireland service in Crumlin.

The Irish News reported that the Republic's Department of Health wrote to GPs to say they would protect the service in a no-deal Brexit and "we expect cross-border services... such as the Paediatric Congenital Heart Service, to continue".

Joseph's parents Brian and Sarah said "expects" fell short of the "cast-iron guarantee" they need.

Last month their son travelled to Dublin for a three hour procedure to have a metal stent fitted.

His condition also means he will have to be monitored for the rest of his life.

"We found out at the end of the summer Joseph needed the procedure as his blood pressure had started to go up - and we started pushing to get it done before Brexit," said Mrs Loughran.

"I had no concern, no angst about the doctors doing the procedure. The actual angst and the stress about him getting it done was the scheduling of it - was it going to be before Brexit, before the nurses strike.

"The strike did lead to it being postponed and me and Brian were watching the news every night, thinking what if this going to be put back and back after Brexit.

"Thankfully it went ahead on Valentine's Day - but what about the families coming after us?"

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