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Ireland Réiltín (4) has her chemotherapy delayed as overcrowded hospital grapples with threat of infection

09:00  11 january  2020
09:00  11 january  2020 Source:   independent.ie

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a little boy wearing a red hat: Brave: Réiltín Reid, whose chemotherapy treatment was delayed Brave: Réiltín Reid, whose chemotherapy treatment was delayed

The family of a brave little girl, who has fought a two-year battle against cancer, are struggling with yet another delay in her life-saving chemotherapy.

Réiltín Feeney Reid (4), from Glasnevin, Dublin, was due to be admitted to Crumlin Children's Hospital yesterday to be treated for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

But her mother Ciara was contacted earlier this week and told it was being postponed until next Thursday because of a lack of beds and the number of children treated for the flu and other viruses.

She is one of 12 children fighting cancer whose treatment had to be deferred this week, seven due to infection control.

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The deferral of some chemotherapy treatments at the overcrowded hospital has been going on for months and was recently highlighted in the Irish Independent by Agnes O'Shaughnessy, from Shannon, Co Clare, who spoke of her distress at the delay in treatment for her son Alex (10).

a sign on the side of a building: Deferred: Réiltín’s treatment at Crumlin Children’s Hospital has been delayed. Deferred: Réiltín’s treatment at Crumlin Children’s Hospital has been delayed.

"It has been routinely cancelled since Réiltín was diagnosed in January 2018," Ciara said.

"Every 12 weeks she has to go to Crumlin and be admitted to theatre to get a drug in her spine."

She revealed the family has "lost count" of the times it has been cancelled.

She said on this occasion the hospital blamed the risk posed by so many children who are patients and suffering winter infections, including flu.

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"We regard ourselves lucky compared to other families whose treatment is delayed and have their bags packed to travel from Kerry or Donegal."

She described Réiltín, who has Down syndrome, as her "little hero".

As a baby she had open heart surgery and has also had to be fitted with cochlear implants for hearing difficulties.

"We are now at the end of Réiltín's treatment. From a health perspective, we are told a week's delay will not make a difference."

The happy youngster, who was at preschool yesterday, has an older sister, Dearbhla, aged 7.

Réiltín is responding well to treatment and enjoyed a great Christmas in contrast to the previous year when she was very ill in hospital.

"Réiltín is now walking independently and starting to speak."

Apart from the hospital treatment, she takes an oral anti-cancer drug daily and more chemotherapy once a week.

A spokeswoman for Children's Health Ireland (CHI), which oversees Crumlin and the other two children's hospitals, said it acknowledged the impact that a change in an admission for treatment for cancer would have on patients and their families.

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"CHI sincerely regrets that on occasion deferment of planned treatment occurs.

"Patients are scheduled based on their treatment plans and unfortunately these may need to be deferred for different reasons which are individual to each patient."

The decision to defer a patient's treatment is not undertaken lightly and is made by the patient's clinical team.

If treatment is deferred, the clinical team communicates directly with the family and endeavours to reschedule it as soon as is practical.

This week, more than 130 patients received their treatment at the haematology and oncology day unit at Crumlin.

But 12 patients had their treatment deferred.

She said five were not medically fit to receive their treatment. Seven were deferred due to isolation requirements and infection prevention and control guidance, which was in the best interest of patient safety.

She added St John's Ward, where children undergo chemotherapy and other invasive treatments, did not have any inpatient deferrals this week.

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