10/02/2007

Third world healthcare for first world country

I must admit that I was ignorant to the plight of Billy Caldwell, an Omagh two year old with a deadly form of epilepsy, until I was contacted by a Balrog reader (hat-tip Susan).



Billy suffered from very bad seizures that left his body limp as a rag doll. Belfast doctors didn't offer his mother much hope.

"They basically said take him home, he has six months to live," said Charlotte Caldwell.

More than a year later, her 2-year-old son is alive and undergoing a battery of epilepsy tests at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago, as the focus of an international medical case that has inspired hope and provoked controversy.

Before leaving for Chicago earlier this month, Charlotte Caldwell met with Michael McGimpsey who refused to release government funds for Billy's tests in Chicago.

It's a travesty that the Caldwells had to leave not only their home but the island of Ireland to get a glimmer of hope for Billy's future.

Health Minister McGimpsey did at long last finally offer to help them get to London, but by that time the wheels were already in motion for Children's Memorial in Chicago and Billy's mum felt it was her only child's last, best, hope.

Both mother and son must be fiercely determined to have made it as far as they have.

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