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18-month-old boy hands in petition with 65,000 signatures to Leinster House

The campaign is about children with serious illnesses.

Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

Source: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

AN 18-MONTH-old boy who has Down syndrome today delivered a message about children with serious illness to Leinster House.

He handed in a petition containing 65,000 signatures to the chair of the Oireachtas Health committee Jerry Buttimer this morning. The move was on behalf of the Our Children’s Health Campaign and all of the seriously ill children and their families that it represents.

Ryan was accompanied by his parents Nichola and Chris, and by Kevin Shortall and Peter Fitzpatrick of the Our Children’s Health campaign.

The little boy was born with Down syndrome, and has a hole in heart, floppy larynx, and suffers from sleep apnoea, and has been hospitalised for pneumonia and collapsed lungs.

Our Children’s Health Campaign said that Ryan has been refused a medical card three times.

Source: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

The group printed all the signatures collected to date, and said the petition reaches 2200 pages.

“The purpose of the handover at this time is to highlight our call for a change in the 1970 Health Act so as children with serious medical need will not have to fight for and continually be refused full eligibility for medical services (Medical Cards),” the campaigners said ahead of the handover.

The petition states:

I support amending the Health Act of 1970 to legally entitle any child diagnosed with a serious illness or congenital condition to a full medical card for the duration of their illness.

Source: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

The organisers say the petition is not just about the “medical card”, “it is about the way in which we as a Society respond to families struggling to cope with the implications of a serious medical condition for their child and for themselves”.

They say they want to highlight “not only the benefit and reassurance that granting a medical card gives to the parent of a sick child but the distress and harm caused by a hugely difficult application process and repeated refusals”.

A range of changes to the medical card system were unveiled in November.

Read: Parents of 4-year-old boy with cancer being pursued by debt collector on behalf of HSE>

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