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Connacht Tribune

Motor Neurone man can’t come home because of internal HSE row

Dara Bradley

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The plight of a Connemara man suffering from Motor Neurone Disease, who is over a year in High Dependency Unit waiting to secure a homecare package, was highlighted in Seanad Éireann.

And an internal ‘turf war’ between two departments within the Health Service Executive (HSE) was blamed for delaying the discharge home to Tuairin from hospital of Baile na hAbhann native Andrew Lydon.

Sinn Féin Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh suggested in the Upper House that the HSE was not willing to take responsibility for putting in place a proper package which would allow him to return home.

The case – first highlighted in this newspaper in 2014, and again last month – involves Andrew, a father of two, who had to fight to get access to life-saving surgery three years ago.

The HSE had initially refused to grant the Connemara man a tracheostomy to extend his life. It was HSE policy not to provide MND (also known as ALS) patients with this procedure because of the prohibitive cost of aftercare packages associated with the operation. Some aftercare packages would cost tens of thousands of Euros per annum.

But after a public campaign by the father of two, and his wife, Sally Lydon, the HSE agreed to operate.

Andrew underwent surgery at University Hospital Galway (UHG) in mid-April last year, and it went well, but he has been occupying a bed in the High Dependency Unit (HDU) for more than a year.

Last month, Sally vented her frustrations in the Connacht Tribune, over the HSE’s failure to provide a homecare package, and lack of engagement on the issue.

She called on the HSE to ‘get the finger out’ to provide a package; and said her husband was feeling guilty at having to take up a bed in HDU, when what he needs is adequate aftercare.

Senator Ó Clochartaigh, who has championed the Lydons’ cause from the beginning, raised the issue again last week.

He said Andrew had undergone a successful tracheotomy operation and it was expected that afterward, once an agreed home care package was put in place and suitable nurses and carers were made available, that he would be able to spend the remainder of his years at home.

“That has not happened unfortunately, even though the efforts of his family, particularly his wife, have been ongoing,” he said.

“It appears that there is a kind of stand-off between two parts of the HSE, namely, that which runs the hospital section and the primary care section.”

He said the Primary, Community and Continuing Care (PCCC) side of the HSE had initially estimated that it would cost something of the order of €750,000 to provide home care on a 24-7 basis.

However, the family’s research indicates that this could be done for a fraction that, so they actually made a saving for the HSE in respect of the potential cost.

Senator Ó Clochartaigh asked Minister of State Finian McGrath to intervene as quickly as possible in the situation.

In reply, Tuam native Minister McGrath said he had asked the HSE for a report on the case.

“The HSE has informed that the person concerned is in a high dependency unit in University Hospital Galway and is in need of 24-hour care,” he said.

“I understand from the HSE that it is in discussion with the family on the appropriate options for the person’s discharge from the UHG. The HSE community health care organisation for Area 2, which covers Galway, Mayo and Roscommon, has assured me that it is actively engaging on an ongoing basis with the family with regard to the most suitable and appropriate care for the person.”

Connacht Tribune

Exploring the merits of moving into the west

Dave O'Connell

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Mary Kennedy with Carol Ho, one of the Galway interviewees for her new TG4 series, Moving West. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

Broadcaster Mary Kennedy has an abiding image of those early mornings when she’d set out from Dublin at the crack of dawn to begin work on another day’s filming down the country with Nationwide.

“I always liked to go in the morning rather than stay there the night before – so I’d be on the road early. And from the moment I’d hit Newland’s Cross, all I’d see was a line of traffic of people trying to make it from home to their workplace in Dublin,” she says.

These were people whose day began before dawn to get their bleary-eyed kids ready to drop at a childminder along the way, so they could be on time for work – and then race home to hopefully see those same kids before they went to sleep.

But if the pandemic had a positive, it was the realisation that work was something you did, not a place you went to. As a result, many people finally grasped the nettle, moving out of the city and sometimes even taking their work with them.

Which is why Mary – busier than ever since her supposed retirement from RTÉ – is presenting a new television series called Moving West, focusing on those individuals and families who have, as the title, suggests, relocated to the West.

One of the programmes comes from Galway, where Mary met with Stewart Forrest, who relocated with his family from South Africa to Oughterard, and Carol Ho, a Hong Kong native who has also settled in Galway.

The TG4 series also stops off in Sligo, Mayo, Kerry, Clare, Roscommon and Leitrim.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Community’s tribute to one of their own – saving final cut of turf after his passing

Dave O'Connell

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Well saved...members of St Brendan's GAA Club honour their departed stalwart, John Geraghty, after a record-breaking evening saving his turf.

A local community responded in force to the death of one of their own – a man who had given so much of his life for the good of the parish – by paying one last practical tribute to him last week.

They lifted and footed his turf.

John Geraghty – or Gero as he was known – lived for Gaelic football and he’d filled every role imaginable with the St Brendan’s GAA Club since he came to live in Newbridge in 1983.

He’d cut the turf before he died last Tuesday week, but there it lay, until his old GAA friends organised a bunch of guys – made up of the football team, friends and neighbours – to meet in the bog last Wednesday evening to lift and foot/clamp John’s turf.

“Upwards of 50 fellas from the community showed up,” said St Brendan’s chairman Gerry Kilcommins.

Which was just as well, because, as Gerry acknowledged, John – himself a two-time chairman of the club in the past – had a lot of turf cut!

“It took up an area around three-quarters of the size of a standard football pitch,” he said.

Not that this proved a problem, given the enthusiasm with which they rolled up their sleeves for their old friend.

They started at 7.30pm and had it done at 7.55pm – that’s just 25 minutes from start to finish.

Read the full, heartwarming story – and the St Brendan’s GAA Club appreciation for John Geraghty – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Liver donor dad would do it all again in a heartbeat

Denise McNamara

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Daddy’s girl…Sadhbh Browne with her very special message on organ donations. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

It is nearly two years since Paddy Browne gave his daughter Sadhbh part of his liver to save her life. And just ahead of Father’s Day, he reflects on how he would do it all over again in a heartbeat, without a single moment’s hesitation.

After an initial testing time in the first six weeks when they beat a path to the intensive care unit after the operation in St King’s Hospital in London, Sadhbh has never looked back.

“She’s thrived and thrived and thrived. She skips out to school every day. She loves the normal fun and devilment in the yard. She’s now six and started football with Mountbellew Moylough GAA, she loves baking, she’s a voracious reader – she’ll read the whole time out loud while we drive up to Crumlin [Children’s Hospital].”

But it could have all been so different.

Sadhbh from Mountbellew was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia shortly after she was born. She quickly underwent major surgery to drain bile from her liver. It worked well until she reached three years old when an infection caused severe liver damage and she was placed on the liver transplant list.

She was on a long list of medication to manage the consequences of advanced liver disease. While she lived a full life, she would tire very easily.

Paddy was undergoing the rigorous process to be accepted as a living donor when one of the tests ruled him unsuitable. His brother Michael stepped forward and was deemed a good match.

Then, further tests revealed that Paddy was in fact eligible for the operation and the previous result disregarded as a false positive.

Read the full, uplifting story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

Organ Donor Cards can be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association on 01 6205306 or Free text the word DONOR to 50050. You can also visit the website www.ika.ie/get-a-donor-card or download a free ‘digital organ donor card’ APP to your phone.

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