A SPECIAL bus to take 13 people for cataract operations to Belfast next month has been organised by Michael Collins TD and Danny Healy Rae.
‘It is a cross-border initiative in more ways than one,’ said the West Cork TD, who is working with his Kerry counterpart to bring patients to the Kingsbridge Hospital in Belfast in mid-December.
Deputy Collins said The Southern Star story about John Patrick Harrington (90) had ‘opened the floodgates’.
‘It has caught the imagination of the country, and people from all over West Cork and Kerry are of the opinion that if a 90-year-old man can make that arduous journey and have a successful outcome, they can too.’
Michael Collins said the plan is to collect the patients from their respective homes on a Saturday morning and drive the 500km trip to Belfast.
‘They will stay overnight in Belfast. And, on the Sunday morning, following their consultations, have the procedure, which is expected to take 15 to 20 minutes. Then, with eyes bandaged, they will make the return journey home on the bus.’
Every patient is entitled to bring one family member, said the deputy.
Each of the patients will pay for their own cataract operations, but under the Cross Border Healthcare Initiative, they will be fully reimbursed within five to eight weeks.
‘The alternative to the Cross Border initiative,’ according to Deputy Collins, ‘would be an agonising four-year wait for many of these Cork and Kerry patients.’