‘He is sleeping on the floor’: Scoliosis waiting list puts heartbreaking pressure on young Noah

Brave young Noah Quish with mother Una. Photo: Liam Burke.

IN THE past six months, six-year-old Noah Quish has endured six brain surgeries and survived meningitis. However, his parents Una and John-Joe Quish fear the curve on their son’s spine, which is slowly crushing his internal organs, will eventually kill him.

“He has been vomiting a lot every day because it has put pressure on his stomach and he is breathless because it is putting pressure on his lungs,” explained Noah’s mother, Una Quish.

“I can’t let it go too much longer, especially when he is complaining so much. He can’t sleep in his bed now, he is sleeping on the floor, he can’t get comfortable on the bed.”

Noah is one of hundreds of children on long waiting lists for scoliosis surgery, which the government has admitted it has failed to properly tackle.

When Noah was two years old, he was deemed an “urgent case” to be fitted with a cast to straighten his spine, however it took 10 months for the cast to be fitted.

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In the last year and half, Noah’s scoliosis has grown by 80 degrees, going from 26 to 100 degrees, and is crushing his lungs and making it hard for him to breathe, Una Quish told the Limerick Post.

Last July, brave Noah underwent brain surgery for an unrelated condition, but he contracted meningitis in Temple Street Children’s Hospital and ended up undergoing five more surgeries.

Noah’s scoliosis surgery has been cancelled a number of times because he had been too unwell, however now, although he is considered well enough for his scoliosis operation, he has had no confirmed date.

His last consultation with his consultant surgeon at Crumlin Children’s Hospital was last November, but because the surgeon is currently on leave, Noah is “in limbo”.

“The first brain surgery was at the end of July and he ended up getting severe hydrocephalus, so he got fluid on the brain, and because he had so much fluid on the brain, he ended up with a shunt (to drain the fluid). He caught meningitis from that, so it ended up being six brain surgeries altogether because everything went wrong,” Ms Quish told the Limerick Post.

“When the shunt went in, some infection went in at the same time, so he got meningitis, so the shunt had to be taken out and a drain had to be put in his head. Then when he was better again they had to put a shunt back in so it was all a bit of a disaster.”

“Noah is great, he does cope, it is not like him to complain, but the fact that he is complaining about his spine since before Christmas, I know it needs to be done now.”

Una Quish’s message to the government, the Minister for Health, and Children’s Health Ireland, which runs both Temple Street and Crumlin, is simple: if they don’t tackle the waiting list, children like Noah will continue to suffer needlessly.

“The waiting list keeps these children suffering, they are waiting way too long and ending up with other health issues; Noah has lung problems now associated with scoliosis.”

Ms Quish said that for the past two years Noah has also not been able to access physiotherapy, which he requires to mitigate the pain he suffers due to scoliosis, because of “a lack of resources” in the Mid West region.

Growth spurts make it a nightmare for children with scoliosis, Ms Quish continued.

“Noah is after having a growth spurt, and the more you grow the more twisted the spine gets. It keeps rotating and curving and that’s why he is in trouble, his spine is rotating, it’s after putting pressure on all his organs.”

Despite it all, Noah does his very best to attend St Clare’s School in Ennis, County Clare, for children with special needs.

“He loves St Clare’s, it has been fantastic for Noah,” Una Quish said.

Children’s Health Ireland did not respond for comment.