‘Shameful’ number in Ireland have to crowdfund for prosthetic limbs, disability committee hears

Oireachtas told how UK far more facilitating of access to prosthetics while growing Irish boy’s legs are built ‘to a budget’ not for comfort or function

A 13-year-old amputee has told an Oireachtas committee how his Health Service Executive-funded prosthetic was built “to a budget” rather than for comfort or function.

Éanna Kelly lost part of his right leg from meningitis when he was two years old and he had a prosthetic leg provided by the State at the time.

Due to his age, he required new prosthetics as he grew.

“But after this, I kept getting refused a medical card to allow me to get more legs. My parents were means-tested for the medical card and refused, it took a while before a medical card was given to me based on my condition and then it was only for two years,” he said.


The 13-year-old told the committee on disability matters that his parents had to reapply and go through a means test only to be refused again.

He described the application process as “very stressful and intensive” while renewal letters asked if his condition had changed.

Éanna said his legs have been built “to a budget” rather than for comfort or function.

“I have represented Ireland at European games for Amputee Football six times now and I see how kids from other countries have legs for sport in addition to their day-to-day walking legs.

“Ireland is the only country at these games where this is not standard for its kids,” he said.

Éanna said he is held back by the HSE, adding: “How I compete in sports, how I manage at school and at home is determined by a HSE budget. My choice is taken from me.”

The teenager was one of more than 20 self-advocates to speak at the committee meeting which heard that the number of people in Ireland crowdfunding for prosthetics was “shameful” while others were forced to fight for medical cards.

Self-advocate and member of Amputee Ireland Donna Baker, who has spent the majority of her life in the UK, said access to prosthesis and healthcare through the National Health Service was of a “high standard”, unlike Ireland’s HSE.

“Accessing prosthetics for anything, any sport or any hobby was easy. They would happily make a prosthetic if it meant you could enjoy life more. I was not aware of the difficulty in accessing services and prosthetics in Ireland,” she said.

Ms Baker applied for a prosthetic in Ireland for violin playing and was refused, being told prosthesis was only given by the HSE for everyday mobility.

“If it’s not for daily use, it’s not seen as worthwhile or valued. Leisure activities are not seen as necessary unless you fund the prosthetics yourself,” she said.

Ms Baker said amputees felt isolated, face a wall of silence and felt like a second thought when trying to engage with the HSE.