Transplant recipient left without hospital transport


One of Ireland’s longest-surviving transplant recipients is among hundreds of patients left without transport to hospital from the end of this month because of Health Service Executive cuts.

Brendan McLaughlin (45), who celebrates the 20th anniversary of his lung transplant next month, will be without the usual minibus for trips to hospitals in Dublin because the HSE is cutting the subsidy from July 27th.

Mr McLaughlin, who lives in Stranorlar, Co Donegal, is a double-transplant patient, after getting a new kidney 11 years ago.

He makes regular visits to Beaumont Hospital for kidney checks, to the Mater for lung checks and to James Connolly Memorial Hospital, where his respiratory doctor is based.

He is among 50 patients a week, including babies, who have been ferried between Donegal and Dublin for treatment in a minibus run by Marley Coaches of Cloghan, Co Donegal.

Coach company owner Francis Marley was notified by letter last week that his €100,000-a-year contract with the HSE is ending.

Mr McLaughlin said: “We have free CIÉ bus passes so it is possible for us to travel to Dublin that way, but the difference is for €12.50, we were taken from our own Donegal town and dropped by minibus at the front door of the Dublin hospital and then picked up there and taken back home. CIÉ will drop us at Busáras and we will have to pay a taxi to the hospital, more than likely have to book bed and breakfast as well and pay for taxis to the BB and then back to Busáras. We’re probably looking at a minimum of €100 a visit.”

The HSE said in recent years there had been an increase in the number of public service buses on the Donegal-Dublin route, with shorter journey times.

“This has resulted in fewer patients using the HSE-funded bus service. The review that was undertaken in recent months has shown that, on average, five people are using the service every day.”