Josh Butler, 2, of Midleton, Co Cork was born deaf and was selected for an auditory brain stem implant by a prominent surgeon in Italy.
Josh’s mother Chloe Walsh said that the HSE referred her toddler to Italy for the €76,000 surgery. They reportedly agreed to pay for it only to pull the plug on funds at the last minute.
She has since obtained a bank loan for €30,000 to cover the initial costs of Josh’s surgery which took place in late June.
Josh is responding well to the electrodes and his mother has every reason to be hopeful about a partial recovery of his hearing.
Ms Walsh said she feels abandoned by the HSE whom she says are steadfast in their refusal to fix their bureaucratic mix-up.
“We are selling our house so we can pay for it. It’s not only the surgery. Josh must return after four weeks, then every three months, and needs speech therapy three days a week and of course because we lost our referral we are not entitled to speech therapy for him.”
It is understood problems arose after the surgery was switched to a private hospital in Verona from the public hospital a Dublin consultant originally referred them to.
The family did not realise that the switch of venue would jeopardise the funding. The surgeon has agreed to wait for his payment pending negotiations with the HSE on the issue.
In a statement, however, the HSE refuted the claims made by Chloe Walsh in relation to her son’s surgery.
“The HSE operates a Treatment Abroad Scheme (TAS) for persons entitled to treatment in another EU/EEA member state or Switzerland under EU regulations and in accordance with DoH guidelines. Approvals are only issued for specified public hospitals abroad, providing an identified treatment which is not available in Ireland, through the issue of form E112.
“The TAS has never withdrawn an approval and at no time has the HSE TAS given approval for a patient to attend a private hospital abroad.”
Ms Walsh has started a massive fundraising drive to pay for the operation.
Donations can be made online at http://www.gofundme.com/y55euw