Cancer patient urges Health Minister to re-direct approved funding to US hospital

A father of three from Co Galway who has colon and liver cancer is appealing to the Government to give him the best chance of survival by allowing him to re-direct funding approved for his treatment from within the EU to a New York hospital.

The 40-year-old from Oranmore, who works in the city and who wishes to remain anonymous, was diagnosed earlier this year.

He has attended cancer specialists in Galway and Dublin hospitals who previously worked at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering (MSK ) Cancer Center in New York - which is reputed to be the best in the world for cancer treatment.

Although he is undergoing chemotherapy here, they believe his best chance of survival and of securing the best health outcome involves attending the US facility.

Under the Treatment Abroad Scheme the HSE will fund a treatment method costing €40,000 for his condition in France. While he and his family are grateful for this, they are concerned the French treatment involves an external chemotherapy pump. This is deemed not ideal for the man’s condition and is believed not to have achieved the life and health outcomes that the internal pump has.

He is hoping the HSE will allow the approved funding to be re-directed to enable him fund this lifesaving treatment in New York. He is heading there today (Thursday ) for surgery on Friday thanks to the generosity of 30 friends of his who each borrowed €1,000 to help him.

Local senator Fidelma Healy Eames is supporting his call for the HSE funding to be used to finance the US treatment and tabled a motion on the matter yesterday (Wednesday ) evening urging the Minister for Health Dr James Reilly to act.

“The good news is that following examination and consultation arising from a number of trips to MSK the patient is deemed an ideal candidate for this treatment,” she says. “MSK has 20 years of experience successfully treating this condition with this treatment. The bad news is the cost of treatment and aftercare is $175k or € 150k which includes at least six months of follow-on monitoring with trips at intervals to New York for care and attention.

“The other critical factor is if the family wait any longer there will no longer be enough of his liver unaffected by the tumour to accommodate the insertion of a chemotherapy pump inside his body, the recommended treatment.”

Senator Healy Eames says she is not asking for more money just that the funds follow the patient. This policy was one of Fine Gael’s pledges prior to the last General Election, she says.

“I understand that there may be rules and regulations about EU boundaries but it’s time that we put the patient first regardless of territorial boundaries.

A major fundraising effort is under way locally and across the country to help the family. A trust has been set up called For Pete’s Sake with an Idonate account and a Facebook page of the same name outlining the fundraising activities.

“To help the family, unbelievably, 30 friends have borrowed €1,000 each to help fund the treatment so they could travel right away. They are now trying to fundraise to raise more money.”

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