‘The HSE is denying me a proper way of life’

A teenager who lost a leg when he was just two years old has spoken of his “anger” at being denied a proper, active life by the HSE, which claims it can’t afford €4,000 for his replacement prosthetic.

Despite losing his right leg in a lawnmower accident, Ronan Kiely adapted to walking with an artificial limb so successfully that it was hard to tell him apart from other boys.

However, the 14-year-old has grown out of his current prosthetic and has been on a waiting list for a replacement for five months.

Ronan, from Boherbue, North Cork, is among 120 people waiting for new or replacement prosthetics in Cork and Kerry.

“I think the HSE [South] is denying people like me a proper way of life,” said Ronan.

“I’m able to do pretty much everything like play sports when I have a proper artificial leg. I am very angry with the HSE.”

He said that because he has been kept waiting so long for a new prosthetic he has missed school tours, sports days, and playing with his friends.

“I have to go around in a wheelchair. I can’t ride my bike or walk the dog when I come home. I can’t do what my friends are doing. The only thing I can do is go for a swim, because I don’t need an artificial leg to do that.

“It’s a disgrace that there are 120 other people in Cork and Kerry who are waiting like me. The HSE obviously don’t have its priorities right.”

His mother, Margaret, said it’s upsetting to watch her son go around on his knees when he’s at home and not being able to participate — which he used to — in the things other teenagers do.

“They [the HSE] used to be good, but they have ruined my son’s life. This is a quality of life issue. He doesn’t even walk with a limp when he has a proper prosthetic. He’s been rendered disabled by this,” said Mrs Kiely.

She said after the lawnmower accident Ronan walked on the artificial leg almost immediately.

“Obviously, because he is growing, he needs his leg replaced frequently and would usually have three legs in any two years.

“Because he is growing, the tibia and the fibula in his stump need to be surgically shortened, to prevent them breaking through the skin. Each time this happens, the shape of his stump changes and his prosthetic leg no longer fits properly.”

Ronan had his last leg fitted at the end of 2010.

“He has had no new limb since then, even though he is now close to 6ft tall,” she said.

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