13-year-old's undergoes 10 hour spine surgery - ‘We hope it will change her whole life’

Megan, who has scoliosis, is due to undergo a 10-hour surgery on the curvature of her spine today.

“I hope and pray this will be the first step in getting Megan’s life back to normal again after years of pain and agony.”

That was the wish of Limerick mother, Sharon Halvey-Ryan as 13-year-old daughter, Megan, prepared to undergo a 10-hour curvature of the spine surgery at Our Lady’s Hospital in Crumlin.

Today’s potentially life-changing surgery was cancelled earlier this month, despite Megan waiting over two years for the operation.

Megan’s prolonged suffering due to the delays in treating her crippling scoliosis forced Health Minister Simon Harris to admit he was ashamed after the issue was highlighted by RTÉ’s documentary, Living on The List.

The programme prompted a national outcry after it emerged Megan, along with many children, was on a waiting list for treatment for years, while the condition worsened.

Sharon and her husband, Nigel, 41, who works for Striker medical company, will remain at the hospital over the coming days as Megan recovers from the operation, which will be performed by surgeon Pat Kiely.

“She is due to go to theatre at around 8.30am and the surgery will take up to 10 hours. Obviously, Megan is very nervous, but looking forward to having the surgery which we are confident will deal with the awful, constant pain she has been living with for so long.

“We hope it will change her whole life. Mr Kiely has spoken to us about the surgery and explained everything. The surgery will involve full spinal fusion with her entire spine being fused with metal rods. Mr Kiely said her curvature had worsened, but he was hopeful of a good correction and is very confident.

“During the operation I will light candles and say my own prayers. She will have a long road in recovery and this is the first step in getting life back to normal.”

During leaders’ questions yesterday, Taoiseach Enda Kenny promised that children will not have to wait longer than four months for scoliosis surgeries by the end of the year.

Responding to questions in the Dáil, Mr Kenny said that 88 children and young adults would have scoliosis operations carried out this year.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary-Lou McDonald highlighted the Irish Examiner’s coverage of Jane’s story, who after a very long wait, eventually got her surgery after travelling to England.

“Her words are powerful. Jane is just one of very many cases,” she told the Dáil.

“I am sure the Taoiseach would agree that no child or young person should go through what Jane went through. No child or young person should have to feel what Jane feels.”

Ms McDonald said the Taoiseach, the Government, and Mr Harris are “quite happy to preside over the chaos that is in our health system and these children and young people pay the price for this chaos every day of their lives”.

Mr Kenny said the HSE has now committed that “no child such as Jane or others will wait longer than four months for such a procedure by the end of this year”, which he said would bring it into line with NHS waiting times.


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