Doctors perform first brain op of its kind here after woman (80) unable to travel


A group of doctors has stepped up to the plate to ensure an 80-year-old woman did not suffer from being unable to travel to London for urgent surgery.

Agnes Booth, originally from Scotland but living in Co Wicklow with her daughter Sue, suffers from a condition called dystonia, which left untreated causes uncontrollable tremors.

A decade ago she was fitted with a deep brain stimulator (DBS) to control the trembling and give her a better quality of life.

But last month she was due to travel to London to have the battery changed as the procedure is not done in Ireland. Due to current restrictions, the operation was put on hold.

So she was looking at the possibility of living with incessant trembling for the foreseeable future.

“The essential tremor is the worst part of my diagnosis.

“Without DBS, I shake from head to toe and without the battery, I would have to have everything done for me as the shaking is so extreme.

“I was due to go to London to spend three days in hospital to have the battery changed, but due to the coronavirus this fell apart and I was so stressed about the prospect.”

Ms Booth’s neurologist put out a call to colleagues in Ireland to see if anyone could help.

His email was eventually picked up by Dr Richard Walsh at the Mater and Tallaght hospitals, who enlisted the help of Catherine Moran, a neurosurgeon with experience of DBS, who booked a theatre at the Beacon Hospital and performed the operation on Ms Booth and a further three patients.

Dr Walsh said a number of factors have prevented patients from availing of this service in the past.

“It’s unusual for a developed economy like Ireland with a well-resourced health service not to have a deep brain stimulation service,” he said.

“We have traditionally relied on neurosurgical centres in England to provide pre-operative assessments, surgery and post-operative programming for patients requiring DBS, but this has required patients to travel over and back.

“Factors for this include pressure on local neurosurgical services and an absence of local surgical expertise in this area in the past.”

Dr Walsh was hopeful that patients will no longer need to travel abroad to undergo the necessary treatment.

“It seemed ridiculous to impose the risks and stress of travel on these patients for a minor procedure that could be done in Dublin,” he said.

Irish Independent

Source: Irish News