Father tells how son (8) on scoliosis waiting list is suffering pain so bad that ‘he bursts out into tears’

Children under the care of surgeon Mr Connor Green, who went on leave last September after Children’s Health Ireland (CHI) referred him to the Irish Medical Council, are still on waiting lists

The parents of an eight-year-old boy, whose spine is crushing his lungs and pressing against his heart, have told how they fear he will die unless he undergoes surgery.

Harvey Sherratt, who was born with spina bifida, hydrocephalus and scoliosis, is a “victim” of long waiting lists at Temple Street children’s hospital, said his parents, Stephen Morrison and Gillian Sherratt.

Mr Morrison said it was not until they met Mr Connor Green, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Temple Street, when Harvey had reached his first birthday, that they became aware for the “first time” that Harvey had scoliosis.

The curvature on Harvey’s spine is now somewhere beyond 80 degrees, meaning he is at risk of death unless he receives a surgical intervention.


“He will die. He absolutely needs the surgery,” Morrison said.

The “cob angle” – the measurement of a curve on his son’s spine – should not be left go beyond 25 degrees, “by international standards”, and if the curve goes above that, “you get severe complications”.

While Harvey has waited for years for surgery, his condition has worsened and is literally squeezing the life out of his frail body.

“Harvey now has got early onset chest wall disease, so his rib cage is currently crushing one of his lungs,” Mr Morrison said.

“From the scans we have, it [the curve] looks like it is pushing on his heart, so all of his internal organs at the moment are completely shifting over to one side.”

The worsening of the curve on Harvey’s spine means “he can no longer sit in his wheelchair any more”.

Mr Morrison said his son’s pain is now so bad that “he bursts out into tears”.

“Harvey’s mobility went from being a very good wheelchair user, to that he does not want to push himself around any more. He is deteriorating at a rapid pace.”

Harvey is “regularly admitted” to Temple Street, he has twice been blue-lighted to ICU, and has been admitted to the hospital in “respiratory distress” four times in as many months.

Mr Morrison said the threat to his son’s life is” blatantly obvious”, from his son’s scans, which show his twisted spine, to his son’s laboured breathing which he has videoed for doctors.

He described Harvey’s situation as “absolutely disgraceful”.

Harvey’s surgeon, Mr Green, stopped performing spinal surgeries last April and went on leave last September when Children’s Health Ireland (CHI), the operators of Temple Street, referred him to the Irish Medical Council, after concerns were raised regarding implanting unapproved spring devices in young spina bifida patients.

Investigations are continuing by CHI and the Health and Information Quality Authority (Hiqa).

Senator Tom Clonan told the Seanad last Wednesday that 150 families of children who were under the care of Mr Green are suffering in pain while on prolonged waiting lists.

Mr Morrison said he does not know anything about concerns relating to Mr Green, but, he said, he would “like to see him [Mr Green] back” in Temple Street to perform life-saving surgery on his son.

Mr Morrison says Mr Green told him and his partner when he met them seven years ago “that correcting Harvey’s scoliosis was a life-or-death situation – that Harvey will die if we let it [the curvature] continue”.

“We have had zero intervention in relation to Harvey’s scoliosis. It is because of waiting lists, there is no capacity in the system.”

He agrees with Prof Damian McCormack, the lead orthopaedic consultant at Temple Street – who has publicly supported Mr Green returning to work – that transferring Mr Green’s severely complex patients out of Ireland will not work.

“This cannot be solved by sending kids out of the country, it cannot be done, it won’t be done. They are far too complex, and the amount of care that they need afterwards is shocking,” said Mr Morrison.

He said he believes there is a specific “dysfunction” in the Irish orthopaedic system for children that is not visible in other areas of the health service.

He highlighted how his daughter Lyla (5), who has had a number of “open-heart surgeries” for a cardiac condition and will require more, is attending the “world class” cardiology department attached to Crumlin Children’s Hospital.

A CHI spokeswoman said Harvey’s “clinical team can discuss options with the family directly”.

The spokeswoman added: “Children’s Health Ireland cannot comment on individual cases when to do so might reveal information in relation to identifiable individuals, breaching the ethical requirement on us to observe our duty of confidentiality. When a patient or family makes personal information public, this does not relieve Children’s Health Ireland of its duty to preserve/uphold client confidentiality at all times.”

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