The mother of an 18-year-old woman, who is battling for her life against an eating disorder, has appealed to the HSE to urgently transfer her abroad for specialised treatment, writes Audrey Ellard Walsh.
Sharon Hegarty, whose daughter, Lauree, has suffered with anorexia for two years, is currently an inpatient at Cork University Hospital, where she has been admitted seven times since her eating disorder first developed.
Ms Hegarty, who initially made an emotional appeal for help on 96FM’s Opinion Line, says that Lauree’s problems began when she started visiting a gym a couple of months before her 17th birthday.
In the following months she lost weight drastically, falling into the grips of an illness which has now left her severely underweight.
The Department of Health and Children estimates that up to 200,000 people in Ireland may be affected by eating disorders, with 80 deaths annually attributed to them.
However, there is no specialised eating disorder treatment centre in Ireland, and there are no dedicated beds for public patients in the Cork area.
Ms Hegarty is now calling on the health service to fund private treatment in Dublin, or refer Lauree abroad, arguing that she is running out of time. “It is devastating. I don’t remember when I last slept,” she said.
“I have two other daughters and the eldest has an eight-year-old boy.
“We protect him as much as we can, but he sees what is happening and it is devastating for all of us.
“My own health has deteriorated, as you can imagine, watching my daughter die. There are no words to describe it.”
The HSE stated that they do not comment on individual cases, but “in general, the majority of patients over the age of 18 with eating disorders are treated by the general adult services.”
They state that the recommendation for specialist in-patient treatment elsewhere in Ireland or abroad “is a matter for the treating consultant.”
This article first appeared in the Evening Echo.