More patients could face Billy’s fate at hands of hospital

AT least three Irish patients have been refused surgery at the British hospital which is refusing to offer Billy Burke a lung transplant operation, it has emerged.

One of them, a man from Swords in Dublin, died recently.

And as many as 30 others could be in a similar situation within months unless the Government acts to ensure donor organs follow Irish transplant patients abroad, wherever they are treated, the Cystic Fibrosis Association of Ireland (CFAI) claims.

“One man who was in a similar situation to Billy Burke in Kerry has already died. Another man, who does not have the bug that Billy has, has also been turned away. And this morning, we’ve heard from a third man who has been refused a transplantation at Newcastle,” Association chairperson, Carl Rainey, said yesterday.

As many as 30 Irish patients awaiting lung transplants have been in contact with the association and are anxious that the Government act now, to ensure that their operation is not hindered by the row between hospitals in Britain.

Under an agreement with the Government, the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle receives all organs harvested from Irish patients. However, it has refused to release these organs to other hospitals to allow operations be carried out.

The CFAI is concerned about the manner in which the current exclusive arrangement with the hospital appeared to be working against some Irish patients.

“Ultimately we should have all transplants here and we are gradually heading that way,” said Mr Rainey.

He urged the public not to allow the current controversy cloud their decision to hold transplant cards.

“We can’t interfere or be seen to interfere with clinical decisions taken by Newcastle or any other hospital. But the Department of Health needs to realise here that there is a problem and that it’s not in the interest of Irish people and patients.

“The policy must change and it must change quickly so that organs can follow patients.

“Time is of the essence because it is not on these patients’ side,” added Mr Rainey.

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