Family can't afford son’s life-saving journey

 Heart transplant patient Rico, nine months, with parents Mary Theresa O'Brien, 22, and Patrick Kelly, 20, at Crumlin Children's Hospital

A desperate father has appealed for funds for a passport for his terminally ill nine-week-old son so he can have a heart transplant in London.

Patrick Kelly, 20, who is unemployed and in receipt of a disability allowance, admitted he did not have the €31 to pay for a passport for his son, Rico.

“I’m not 100% sure that I’ll be able to come up with the €31 [in the next few days], said Mr Kelly.

“Funds would be a help as we’ll have to stay over there. We don’t know how long we would be over there. We have been told that it could take three weeks for Rico to recover after the operation.”

Mr Kelly and his partner, Mary Theresa O’Brien, 22, from Abbeyfeale in Co Limerick, were shocked when they were told Rico needed the life-saving operation. He is currently only breathing with the aid of a machine.

Rico showed no sign of illness for the first month of his life, but suddenly stopped breathing and “turned blue” at his grandparents’ home in Abbeyfeale five weeks ago. He was taken to Kerry General Hospital and then transferred to Crumlin Children’s Hospital in Dublin, where he remains.

Mr Kelly said his family was finding it tough to survive the current economic climate. He appealed for funds to help him and his partner travel to England to be with Rico when a heart becomes available.

“It is [tough]. We are living off of tea and plain biscuits. We are here [in Crumlin] for a month,” said Mr Kelly.

“It was a big shock, yeah, because Rico was nearly a month old and he was fine at home and then in the space of a couple of hours he was between Kerry General Hospital and here [Crumlin] and he’s here about a month. We have no other choice than to keep going.”

Mr Kelly said it was his understanding that, should a heart became available for his son, that, a nurse and doctor would be given priority in travelling with Rico to Britain.

“We would have to go on the internet and organise flights to the hospital,” said Mr Kelly.

“A nurse and a doctor will be going over with Rico. If he’s very sick [at that time] there won’t be enough room on the plane [for all the medical equipment], so we will have to pay for a different plane to follow him over. We have no money to pay for the flights or anything.

“I’m not working. I’m on sick money, disability. I have to pay the rent of the house we are living in, and there’s a light bill after landing in the door now, along with everything. It’s like everything is coming at once. I’m on disability for depression.”

Mr Kelly said he and his partner had to pay €170 for their combined passports but he had to reapply because the passport office lost their information. He said he was then asked for €150 for Rico’s passport. However a spokesperson for the passport office denied he was quoted this amount.

A statement from the Department of Foreign Affairs yesterday said: “We have been in contact with Mr Kelly, and arrangements have been made for the application for the passport of Rico and his parents.

“In terms of passport fees for children, for normal applications through the counter, a three-year passport costing €31 is available to infants under three years of age.”

“In the very limited circumstances of a genuine emergency, where the medical needs of a new-born child necessitates travel from a hospital in Ireland to a hospital abroad for urgent treatment, every effort is made by the Passport Service to facilitate this travel. We deal with approximately five cases of this type every year and issue Emergency Travel Certificates free of charge in these cases.”

“They want €31 for the passport for Rico,” said Mr Kelly.

“I told them he needs a heart transplant and that we could be rang in the morning and that there could be a heart for him, but we still have wait days for his passport to come through and finalise everything and pay €31 for it.”

* A bank account has been set up for the Kellys’ travel and relocation costs at Bank of Ireland, Abbeyfeale, Co Limerick. Acc no 25426307, sort code 904130.


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