Limerick woman forced to travel to India for operation

Donal O’Regan


Donal O’Regan

A COUNTY Limerick woman was forced to travel all the way to India for an operation.

A COUNTY Limerick woman was forced to travel all the way to India for an operation.

Recently retired Joan Condon, Pallasgreen says she tried to get the operation on her arm done in Limerick but was given painkillers instead.

When operated on months later in India the surgeon couldn’t believe the injury wasn’t acted upon and it had got worse in the meantime.

Joan and her husband Mike were involved in a car accident in Oola last October when a car pulled out in front of them.

“My right arm was giving me hell, which is my good arm as I am right handed so I knew there was something wrong with it.

“The x-ray in the Regional showed that there was no bone broken so they said take off-the-shelf painkillers. They thought it was muscular which to be fair you probably could. I went for physio and she said there was something very wrong with it,” said Joan.

An MRI scan showed a tear in her rotary cup and three ruptured tendons in her upper arm.

“The pain was like a nerve pain, like a toothache. The pain was at its worst at night. I had to get up and take painkillers,” said Joan, who got a referral to see a surgeon in the Regional.

“I had great difficulty but I got an appointment in early January. He demonstrated exercises which went against conventional medical wisdom. You don’t need to be a medical person to know if something is severed it’s not going to magically heal.

“When I mentioned surgery he said we won’t talk about surgery and he gave me a steroid injection. I was very unhappy with this,” said Joan, who sought an appointment with a surgeon in Cork University Hospital.

“He more or less said the same thing to me. Their way of dealing with it was with painkillers. It was anything but operate,” said Joan, who has learned of similar cases.

The pain was beginning to get her down and facing up to the fact that she had to live with it for the rest of her life.

Every year the couple go to Goa in India for a holiday combined with charity work.

“I asked a man who owned a hotel did he know any surgeons. I rang him on Monday morning and he said come to his clinic two hours later.

“I showed him my MRI scan and he said ‘I cannot believe it, why would they not operate’? He said it had been left too long and the tear had gotten worse. The consultation cost the equivalent of €8,” she said.

The doctor sent her for an MRI scan the following day costing around €60 and booked her into hospital on Thursday for the operation.

“They operated on Friday. It was very simple but very clean and I got wonderful care. In layman’s terms he repaired the torn tendons – he put in a pin and shaved away the rotary cup.

“He said it was more complicated due to the length of time since the accident,” said Joan.

When she woke up she had the pain from the operation but the “awful nerve pain was gone”.

All in all it cost €4,000 which was covered by Quinn Healthcare. Joan estimated it would have cost around €13,000 in Ireland or more.

With the pain gone she immediately felt better.

“I’m one of the lucky ones who was able to travel and afford it but how many are living in pain because they can’t get operations? It is a shocking state of affairs when we won’t operate on people and are now using painkillers instead of medical intervention. Are we just expected to grin and bear it?

“It might not be an emergency operation but it is very important to the person involved because it affects our quality of life,” said Joan.