Four-year-old's chemotherapy appointment cancelled due to lack of beds

Crumlin children’s hospital postponed treatment for Réiltín Reid because of flu surge

A chemotherapy appointment for Réiltín Reid (4), who has been diagnosed with leukaemia, was cancelled at short notice this week. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

A chemotherapy appointment for Réiltín Reid (4), who has been diagnosed with leukaemia, was cancelled at short notice this week. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

 

A mother whose four-year-old daughter’s cancer treatment was postponed again this week has described the lack of available beds in hospitals as a “chronic problem”.

Ciara Reid’s daughter Réiltín, who was diagnosed with leukaemia almost two years ago, was scheduled to have a chemotherapy session on Friday but the appointment was postponed the evening before.

Crumlin children’s hospital in Dublin told Ms Reid it had been forced to postpone Réiltín’s admission due to rising bed demand caused by a surge in flu cases.

“The sort of chemo Réiltín was due to have has to be done under general anaesthetic which means she has to be starved. She has an issue maintaining her sugar levels, so I always ring the day before to make sure a glucose direct is written up for her. When I rang and spoke to the nurse manager she told me they didn’t have a slot,” Ms Reid said.

“We’ve been cancelled numerous times before. I honestly can’t count how many times we’ve been cancelled. Cancellations are just part of our lives – you get yourself ready, you have everything organised, the bags packed, plans made for childcare and then you get cancelled and everything needs to be rearranged again,” she said.

“Every time, you hope it won’t happen. The knock-on effect for so many people is fairly big. My daughter has Down syndrome as well, so her support worker in playschool was going to look after another child since Réiltín wasn’t going to be at school on the day of her chemo. We had to rearrange that.”

“We’re only coming from Glasnevin to Crumlin. We weren’t coming from Kerry or Donegal, so for families who get cancelled when they’re travelling a distance, the logistics and the cost of rearranging that again is tremendous,” Ms Reid said.

Ms Reid said her other daughter (7) gets anxious when they go to the hospital. “In 2018, we spent 200 nights in Crumlin with Réiltín and that had serious effects with my eldest daughter’s anxiety levels. Sometimes I’m grateful Réiltín has a learning disability because I think that innocence means she doesn’t have to worry.”

Réiltín Reid (4) pictured with her sister, Dearbhla (7). A scheduled chemotherapy appointment for Réiltín, who has been diagnosed with leukaemia, was cancelled at short notice this week. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
Réiltín Reid (4) pictured with her sister, Dearbhla (7). Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

A spokeswoman for Children’s Health Ireland (CHI) said: “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.”

According to CHI, there were 130 appointments scheduled this week at the haematology and oncology day unit in Crumlin children’s hospital. Twelve patients due to attend the unit had their treatment deferred; five patients were deemed not medically fit to receive treatment and seven were deferred due to “isolation requirements and infection prevention and control guidance”, the spokeswoman said.

Réiltín’s treatment has been rescheduled for next Thursday.