Wife of Northern Ireland road racing champ must come up with £18k for prosthetic leg
The Co Fermanagh wife of an Irish motorcycle road racing champion is facing a £17,700 (€20,000) bill to buy her own prosthetic leg after the health service in the Republic refused to provide her with one.Jenny Gartland, wife of Paul Gartland, has suffered from a rare infection since she was seven. But last February she was advised to have an emergency amputation in a private clinic as her life was at risk and the public waiting list was too long.
Jenny, originally from the Republic but who now lives in her husband’s home town of Ederney, had been undergoing treatment on her leg for 33 years in the Republic.
However, the Republic’s Health Service Executive (HSE) told her it cannot fund her prosthetic limb as she had gone privately to the Hermitage Medical Clinic in Dublin for her amputation.
Jenny told the Belfast Telegraph she had faced a stark choice of having the operation quickly by going private or waiting for the health service and taking the serious risk of the infection spreading and endangering her life.
“I had little option. I had to have the operation. Consultants told me I could not afford to wait any longer,” she said.
“At no stage was I told I would not be provided with a prosthetic limb to allow me to walk again if I went privately. It wasn’t my decision. It’s what I was told I had to do.”
Jenny’s problems started aged seven when she went into hospital for a routine procedure.
“It should have been in and out of hospital in a couple of days, but instead I ended up in intensive care for 30 days as I contracted septicaemia,” she said. “There were other complications and through time I’ve had to have a knee and hip replacements, my ankle had to be fused and basically my leg was medically dead.
“There were further serious problems with gangrene.
“My foot was black, toes were going to start falling off.
“I was finally told the option was to remove the leg or risk death. Infections would have spread to the rest of my body.
“What I didn’t know was that going privately meant the HSE would no longer be in a position to provide me with a prosthetic limb.”
Appeals through TDs and medical consultants have failed.
“I’ve basically been left needing to find €20,000 to pay for the artificial leg. I’m obviously not working because of it and simply don’t have that sort of money,” she said.
Jenny’s Northern Irish road racing husband has spent considerable time in hospital himself — such as when he lacerated his liver in the 2016 North West 200.
But Jenny’s long-standing health issues now threaten to change her life forever.
Friends across the motorcycling world are now rallying round Jenny to raise the funds she needs to get back on her feet.
Road Racing Ireland magazine has now stepped in with a GoFundMe campaign to get Jenny the artificial limb.
Gillian Rollins from the Newtownards-based publication said: “Being such a proud girl, Jenny was reluctant to share her dilemma and asked her mother if she could take out a personal loan which she would later pay back.
“Rather than putting her family through all this burden and stress, we are calling on the world-renowned generosity of the road racing fraternity to help Jenny literally to get back on her feet.
“If she doesn’t get her artificial leg soon her remaining stump could shrink even more without the necessary exercise.”
Jenny admitted she cried when the magazine contacted her to share the idea.
“I’ve been battling against this for so long that I feel I haven’t had a life, but that was supposed to change,” she said.
“I’m not afraid to admit I broke down in tears when they told me what they were going to try to do for me.
“They’re trying to give me my life back and I’m so grateful for all their support.”
The HSE said it cannot comment on individual cases.
To support Jenny, visit the GoFundMe website and search for Jenny Gartland