The Shame of Ireland
Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
Eleanor Leahy with her son Nathan
A mother of four has said she was left “destroyed” after a decade-long battle with the HSE to discover the truth about her child’s postnatal care.
Nathan was born in 2003 in Erinville Hospital in Cork which has since closed.
In shocking claims, 39-year-old Eleanor outlined a series of failures on the part of the HSE in what she believes is a cover-up.
Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
Eleanor Leahy's son Nathan six weeks after being born
Nathan, now 12, was delivered by caesarean section in 2003 after a 24-week pregnancy, weighing just 1.5lbs.
Eleanor said she was told there was no chance of survival. However, he miraculously clung to life.
After 12 days, his condition began to deteriorate and Eleanor noticed the tubes that ran through his left leg had caused discolouration in his foot.
She claims doctors assured her this was normal bruising but the following day things took a turn for the worse.
Eleanor said: “The baby was going to die. I was thinking that, the doctors were thinking that. I saw the bruises. The next morning I went in and he was wrapped in plastic bubble wrap.
“I left about midnight and when I came in on Wednesday morning they were all gathered around the incubator.
“They said, ‘We came last night after you left. We took away the line and he’s going to lose his foot’.”
Science Photo Library RF
MRSA bacteria, artwork
Later, Eleanor would retrieve Nathan’s medical files through a Freedom of Information request.
However, she received two conflicting reports for the same period of care.
In one document, the dates appear to have been altered. Eleanor believes a whistleblower purposely sent her the two documents instead of one.
One of the files notes an MRSA infection in the blood, but Nathan was not isolated on the ward,leaving open the possibility the infection could spread.
His mother added: “Nathan was very sick, he was going to die. I was getting phone calls every hour, ‘It’s going to happen now, it’s going to happen now.’ That was going on for months, for 12 weeks.
“I noticed all the babies were in isolation, my little fella was still on the ward.”
Nathan has suffered from a huge number of health problems through the years, undergoing surgery for heart defects and hernias, as well as coping with cerebral palsy.
Although medical problems are to be expected in children born prematurely, Eleanor – who at one point was attending up to 30 appointments a week for her children – believes his life could have been made easier if the medical staff were open about his treatment.
She said: “Had I been protected and supported there wouldn’t have been half as many problems. And I’m talking basic support.”
Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
Eleanor Leahy at home in Cork
She admitted to feeling suicidal at several points in the years following Nathan’s birth.
Eleanor explained: “I just snapped. I would have easily done it but I couldn’t hurt my children.
“I thought to myself, ‘I have three miracles. Just keep thinking about that and keep loving them’.”
Two years ago, Eleanor said she was informed by HIQA the case would be part of the investigation into Portlaoise National Maternity Hospital.
But in the last fortnight she was told the investigation was complete and her case had not been included.
Nearly 13 years on from Nathan’s birth, Eleanor is still no closer in her search for answers.
She said: “I was on my second section when I asked them to cut my tubes. They said no.
“I said, ‘You’re going in there and I’m sick. I’m having premature babies, I know there’s something wrong with me,’”
“I could feel this pain, dragging constant pain before, after and during pregnancy.
“They said, ‘No, you’re too young, you’re unmarried and you’re Catholic’.
“Why didn’t they give it to me then? Why wait for two sections and destroy the cervix and the womb?
“It was obvious to me that sections weren’t good and years later I found out a woman is only supposed to have two sections in her lifetime.
“To be having three in five years is asking for trouble.”
Erinville Maternity Hospital Cork
Eleanor consulted several doctors over Nathan’s conflicting medical reports but none would advise her.
She then turned to Professor Andras Fogarasi, head of neurology in Bethesda Hospital in Budapest, who she was put in touch with through her Hungarian partner.
Prof Fogarasi raised several concerns amid all Nathan’s problems and fight for survival he tested positive for MRSA, yet he was not isolated.
Most importantly Eleanor said she was never informed of the MRSA infection until she found out through her search for answers.
Any such complication should be brought to a parent’s attention immediately according to Prof Fogarasi.
Eleanor added: “He said to not tell you about MRSA, to not isolate him, among all the other problems, if that happened in this country every one of the staff would be hunted down and locked up.”
Eleanor is currently writing a book about what she calls her “three little miracles.”
But she claimed her life has been absolutely destroyed at the hands of the HSE.
She added: “It wasn’t until 2009 when Nathan was six that I found out about my problems.
“They opened me three times and they failed to mention I had a disease.
“The type of disease that you shouldn’t have kids with.
“My bladder was stuck to my womb, my left ovary was tangled.”
Eleanor said she is grateful for the care she received from her doctors but claimed the neglect of her son and the information she said was withheld from her drove her to despair.
She said: “Most people get kicked down and the more you get kicked down, eventually you won’t get back up.
“But I’m still fighting and I will keep fighting until I get the truth.”
The HSE was contacted by the Irish Sunday Mirror for comment but had not responded last night.
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