HSE refuses to fund 'last chance' trip
on 04/03/2013 00:00:00
The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York is one of the few facilities in the US with experience for caring for patients with James' disease.
After three years of battling it in Ireland, and the cancer showing further progression despite surgery in 2011 and 2012, James' doctors recommended that he attempt to gain admission to Sloan-Kettering.
They are operating a clinical trial, testing a approach to treating James' disease.
The treatment that could save James' life would cost €80,000.
Doctors at Sloan-Kettering were prepared to accept James. His Irish cancer-care specialist, Ray McDermott, applied for funding from the HSE for James, who lives in Whitechurch Close, Rathfarnham, Dublin, to travel for treatment to New York.
The HSE in October twice refused to offer the cash, despite a signed document from Dr McDermott and a letter from the Sloan-Kettering centre.
James's mother, Geraldine Gill, said: "They told us they don't provide funding for treatment on trial.
"But we have tried everything that is available in Ireland. James has just this one last chance.
"Doctors in Ireland are keeping him alive with tablets and his only hope is to get over there. It's like a time-bomb."
Ms Gill said James "has such a fight in him".
"Two years ago, one silly doctor told him he would never see school again.
"James turned around and said: 'Look mate, I will.' Two months later, he was back in school."
James plans to study nursing oncology because he missed so much school he did not get the Leaving Cert points to train as a doctor, which had been his childhood dream.
Before illness struck three years ago, James was a campaigner for Sport Against Racism Ireland.
Friends and James's local team, Broadford Rovers, have started a fund-raising campaign to help James continue his battle to go to New York.
A HSE spokesperson said: "The HSE Treatment Scheme, as provided under EU Regulations in conjunction with the Department of Health and Children guidelines, allows access to proven treatment in the public healthcare system of an EU member state for approved patients."
* A fundraising account has been opened in the Bank of Ireland, Dundrum, Dublin under the name James Gill Cancer Fund - account number 20193524; branch code 90 10 95.