Government must provide cochlear implants for children - Adams
March 12, 2013
Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams TD, today raised during Leaders Questions in the Dáil the issue of bilateral Cochlear Implants for young children who are profoundly deaf.
The Sinn Féin last raised this issue with the Taoiseach four weeks ago during Leaders Questions.
Speaking after the Dáil debate Teachta Adams gave a cautious welcome to the Taoiseach’s statement that the intention of the government is to progress the provision of bilateral implants.
Teachta Adams said:
“In recent weeks I have raised the issue of cochlear implants with the Taoiseach in the Dáil and with the Minister for Health on two occasions.
I also met the mothers of three of the children last Friday and spoke to one of the fathers over the weekend following their meeting with the HSE also last Friday.
“I believe this is an issue of fundamental rights. These children, of whom there are around 200, deserve the best possible medical treatment. International best practice demands that children receive bilateral implants. For the last 17 years the practice in this state has been for a single implant.
“As the Taoiseach acknowledged today the overall amount of additional money required would be in the region of€4 million which is not a prohibitive amount even in these straitened times.
“But the implementation of international best practice would have a huge and lifelong and positive impact on the lives of these children.
“The Taoiseach indicated today that the intention of the government is to address this issue and to do so positively.
“While the HSE and Beaumont Hospital are currently involved in discussing this issue it is vital that the government indicate to them that the money needed will be made available.”
The Louth TD also raised the cases of Billy Cairns, aged 4 from Dundalk and Liam Cuneen, aged 5 from Cork.
“Billy will go through an operation in three weeks’ time, on April 3rd, to replace his existing faulty implant. This will mean he has to undergo a fifth general anaesthetic. This is a traumatic experience for a young child.
“I believe it would make sense for Billy to get a second implant installed when he is getting his existing implant repaired. If he doesn’t it will mean he will have to go through several more procedures, including more general anaesthetics in the time ahead.
“In Cork Julie Ann Cuneen has received funding from a private donor for a second implant for her 5 year old son Liam. Despite Liam fitting the criteria Beaumont will not carry out the operation because it is not funded to do so. And they say they don’t want to make an exception because there are other children who need this.
“So they have recommended that Liam go to England. This means that this five year old child could be left in the bizarre and deplorable situation where he has an implant in one ear from Beaumont, and the other implement from a hospital in Britain.
“This would mean that he would have to receive a regular check-up on one ear here and the other in England. This doesn’t make sense. No child should have to go through this trauma.
“None of us would like to see our children having to go through this. Nor does it make economic sense.
“This treatment is not hugely expensive and it can make a huge difference in these children’s lives. It can and should be provided to them.”