A YOUNG city lad was left in need of urgent medical attention after he made contact with a half-full heroin needle outside Thomond Park.
Ben McNamara, just 11 years old, was walking home from Christ the King School in Caherdavin to his home on the Knockalisheen Road in Ballynanty last Friday night when he put his hand into a hole in the ground.
But the curious youngster instead made contact with a used needle, containing what was confirmed to be heroin.
The syringe connected with the tip of his finger.
After her son complained of feeling “dopey and drowsy”, Ben’s mother Jennifer rushed him to Limerick Doc in Raheen.
He was then referred to the accident and emergency unit of the University Hospital, where he was given a vaccination for the diseases Hepatitis B and C.
However, Jennifer was left furious over the delays in diagnosing her son, and is fearful of future problems.
“We went to A&E and Ben was seen fairly quickly. They (healthcare workers) saw him, and thought he should have received a vaccine. But they did not know the protocol, so they ended up sending us home. We were outside waiting for a taxi and they telephoned us back, asking us to come back in. Eventually after two hours they gave him a vaccine. It was meant to be done intravenously, but instead they gave it him in the butt,” she recalled.
Jennifer says Ben now has to attend the Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) clinic.
However, she claims she encountered further problems.
“We were told to ring the STI clinic the following Monday. So I called them on Monday, and was told that he had not been referred. I then called my GP, and he said he would have to write to the Regional, and that I should ring back the following Monday,” she said, referring to October 7.
Jennifer is concerned that her son could be facing into years of problems.
“We are still none the wiser. It is the not knowing which gets to me. We have been left in limbo, not knowing what bloods were taken and what the procedure is,” she said,
“There is a lot of information, but different information coming from each person. It seems like one hand does not know what the other is doing. It is very worrying.”
Jennifer came forward with her story in the hope it will prevent other parents experiencing the same problems. Ben feels fine at the moment - but admitted that when his finger was pricked by the syringe, he felt unwell for hours.
“I felt dopey, and my left eye went very tired. I was half-falling asleep,” he said.
Jennifer said she was shocked that a heroin needle could be found near Thomond Park, which attracts crowds of up to 26,000.
She has called on the council to intervene, and has also asked management at the stadium to stage a clean-up.
“You wouldn’t expect to find heroin needles around Thomond Park. I don’t want to see any parent go through what I have been through. St Munchin’s School, Christ the King School and the Ballynanty School are all in this area, and students pass Thomond Park every day going to and from school,” she said.
It is not the first time in recent years that a child has inadvertently connected with a heroin needle.
In May last year, nine-year-old Holly Sheehy was hospitalised after she fell into a pile of rubbish containing the drug.
The HSE was not available for comment.