Trust apologises after last-minute cancellation of op for little girl (2) with serious medical conditions
A Northern Ireland health trust has apologised to a family after cancelling the early morning surgery of a little girl who made a 50-mile round trip in sub-zero conditions despite a high vulnerability to chest infections.
Two-year-old Abigail Reaney, who is from Portadown, suffers from serious medical conditions including bulbar palsy and epilepsy.
Her parents, Stephen and Jane, have been told she has a limited life expectancy and that getting a chest infection could prove fatal.
Abigail also struggles with swallowing, with the planned surgery yesterday at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children intended to stop her producing too much saliva.
Her parents were left furious after the operation was cancelled at the last minute.
Mr Reaney (37) told the Belfast Telegraph: "We had a call to come down to have some surgery done (on Friday) at 7am, we said it was a bit tight but we could do it.
"The ward didn't open until 7.30am, which was fine, but then we found out they gave her bed away.
"It's a joke. We've been told a bad chest infection could kill this child and she was brought out in minus one this morning to be told there's no bed, just go home.
"I had to put her on to her ventilator this morning - a nasal mask - just to make it down to Belfast safely.
"Last week we were told to keep her health at 100% and we've been turning family members with a cold away from the house before her surgery."
A spokesperson for the Belfast Health Trust said: "We regret most sincerely when a child has their surgery or treatment cancelled or postponed for any reason, we understand that this can be a very distressing time for patients and their families."
They continued: "However, we receive emergency admissions to the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children from across the region and they have to take priority due to their clinical need. We are working closely with the Reaney family to offer a new date as soon as possible and we again offer our apologies to the family."
Mr Reaney describes his daughter as a playful girl who loves cartoons just like any other child her age, but her poor health often dictates what she can do. He added the 50-mile round trip to Portadown on a bus costs the family £27 each time.
"The transport isn't free for us. We have to stop off in Lurgan to leave our other daughter, one-year-old Amber, off with her grandmother," he added.
"Because Abigail has a limited life expectancy both parents always want to be there for her. We don't know for sure what this surgery could do for her, but if there's a chance it extends her life then we have to fight for her.
"She's just out of a long hospital stay a few weeks ago, so we're making that expensive trip a lot.
"There's no financial help for travel, if not for us then I think other families in that situation should be getting some support."