Ireland’s Minister for Health has apologized to the girl whose liver transplant operation was cancelled due to his department’s failure to organize transport.
Minister James Reilly made the apology as it emerged that the government jet was available to transport 14-year-old Meadbh McGivern to London on Saturday night but was turned down by HSE officials.
Instead, they opted for a Coast Guard helicopter which just couldn’t make the trip to Heathrow Airport in time for the transplant operation to go ahead.
As Minister Reilly apologized personally to the Leitrim teenager and her family, Maedbh’s dad Joe vowed to have his own transport arrangements in place the next time a suitable organ becomes available in the UK.
Joe told the Irish Independent that he had lost confidence in the ability of the HSE to arrange proper transport for his daughter the next time she got the call from the hospital.
“It’s the nature of the beast that people will just lie down and hope that things will just work. Well I won’t and by God I will have my own arrangements in place next time,” he told the paper.
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has also expressed his apologies to the family after a distraught Maedbh was left sitting on a helicopter as officials cancelled her life saving trip.
Kenny said: “I felt absolutely distraught as a parent in light of the experience of the McGivern family.
“I think it’s fundamental that we find out the accuracy of what happened here which resulted in the little girl not being able to travel to London for her liver transplant and to put in place a system that makes sure that never happens again.”
The Independent also revealed that the government jet was available to transport Maedbh after it brought President McAleese home from the royal wedding in Monaco.
The offer of the jet, which landed at Baldonnel Airport in Dublin at 10.30pm on Saturday, was made to Health Service Executive (HSE) ambulance officials hours earlier by the Air Corps but they declined to use it.
The paper also claims that:
- HSE Ambulance Control was told an Air Corps jet, bringing the President home, and landing in Dublin, would be ready for her at 10.30pm.
- It could have picked up the family in Sligo and made it to London, where an ambulance was on standby to transport them to hospital.
- Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin sourced a private plane but was reportedly waiting funding approval.
- A high-level alert was issued for an RAF plane from the North or Britain but this was stood down.
- A Coast Guard helicopter was eventually arranged, but it was not ready for takeoff until 11pm and would not arrive in London until 3.30am.
Incredibly, the Emergency Medical Support Services company contracted by the HSE to work with its ambulance control in arranging transport, admitted to the paper that a similar incident could happen again.
The HSE refused to comment on the incident to the paper or explain why its ambulance control appeared to have turned down the offer of the jet in favor of going on a fruitless search for alternative transport to get her to the hospital on time.