Castleisland Woman Flies to Spain to Beat Waiting Lists and the HSE Pays

Michelle O’Sullivan, Castleisland, pictured with Healthcare Abroad carer-driver Tony Hickey, a native of Limerick, at the Daniya Denia Hotel in Spain.

A Castleisland woman who was left in pain by a foot injury sustained last October went to a HSE-funded clinic in Spain for specialist surgery rather than wait for an operation at home.

Mother of two Michelle O’Sullivan, told how she felt like she was ‘walking with two golf balls’ under her foot after a painful accident while out walking last October.

She underwent specialist surgery at a new €60M private hospital in the Costa Blanca city of Denia after being helped by the Healthcare Abroad organisation.

Colleagues were Brilliant  

“I was out on a walk. I slipped and I heard my foot snap. It was excruciatingly painful at the time. I was told I may have damaged ligaments,” said the Killarney Penny’s branch worker.

“Penny’s staff were brilliant. I would be on my feet all day and they would switch me to the tills a lot so I could be seated. It was like walking with two golf balls under my foot, and dragging a brick behind me. It was painful.

“I did finally get an MRI in January and they discovered I had a 3.5cm tear in my tendons.”

Don’t Wait – Advice Taken

Michelle said she was offered possible surgery in Waterford but wasn’t given a date. She took the decision to call Healthcare Abroad instead – and ironically received a date to see a consultant in Ireland this July while she was already in Spain.

“I used to work with Rory O’Sullivan from Killarney and I had heard he had been to the HCB Hospital in Denia in January to get an ACL repaired,” said Michelle.

“I called Rory and he just told me not to wait; to get out to Spain and get it fixed.

“I wasn’t going to wait and Healthcare Abroad came back very quickly and recommended a surgeon Dr Eduardo Lopez to carry out the surgery.”

Michelle flew to Alicante on March 4, was collected from the airport there and booked into a four-star hotel in Denia. She had her operation on March 8. “The whole experience was incredible,” said Michelle.

Twisting and Knitting

“Dr Lopez spoke to me before and after the operation. He explained how he had taken a piece of tissue from the other side of my foot and he was able to twist it and get it knitted together.

“The cast is on my foot now to keep it all in place for the next six to eight weeks.

“I can’t thank Healthcare Abroad enough. Thanks to them and the HCB Hospital in Denia I can now move on with my life again.

“I want to thank Penny’s in Killarney too. The team members there are a great bunch and very understanding.

“It wasn’t an easy decision to go to Spain. My husband works in healthcare and he had to shuffle things around to be home with the boys, with the youngest doing his Leaving Cert this year.

Lots of Irish Patients

“I am grateful now that I decided to go. I was on my own the first week but I wasn’t really because the Healthcare Abroad team were there and there were lots of other Irish patients here and I made so many new friends.

“When you are suffering with this sort of injury it does affect you mentally too. I can’t wait to get back out walking and back out cycling again.”

She joked: “When I get home to Kerry I will be stopping anyone with a funny walk or a limp and telling them to get to Denia to get it fixed!”

Serious Discomfort 

Consultant surgeon Dr Eduardo Lopez at the HCB Hospital in Denia said that Michelle was suffering serious discomfort as a result of her injury.

“I was able to take a graft and repair the damage to her foot. I was very happy that I could help her and I want to wish her and her family in lovely Kerry all the best for the future,” said Dr. Lopez.

A Healthcare Abroad spokesperson said that they were delighted to help Michelle.

“Every EU citizen is entitled to get healthcare in any other EU country under the 2014 Cross-Border Directive. There is no need to suffer in silence.

“We have assisted many patients from Kerry access the procedures they need. We do all the paperwork so that the HSE reimburses the patient when they get home and arrange all transfers from airports and to and from their hotel and their hospital,” said the spokesperson.

Further information on Healthcare Abroad is available at

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