Seven-year-old boy with arthritis waiting two years for treatment

Mark Norton suffers from chronic pain and fatigue

Seven-year-old boy with arthritis waiting two years for treatment

Mark outside Leinster House in Dublin | Image: Norton family

There are calls for more to be done to help children who suffer with arthritis.

Mark Norton from Caragh in Co Kildare is in many ways a typical 7-year-old. He loves sports, playing with his friends and wrestling with his brothers.

But unfortunately for Mark, all of these activities cause him crippling pain and that is because he suffers from arthritis.

And despite being diagnosed over two years ago, Mark is still waiting to receive treatment.

 Mark was born with health problems and missed his developmental markers for speech and movement.

He would fall off his chair, trip over things, and he could not hold a pencil at school.

He received his diagnosis of arthritis two years ago, but still no physiotherapy.

But Mark is not alone. There are currently 478 children waiting for treatment for arthritic conditions.

Nearly one-third of them have been waiting for over a year.

This is despite the fact that best practice dictates all children should be seen and treated within six weeks.

Mark’s mother Lorna told Newstalk Breakfast’s Kieran Cuddihy how this delay is affecting him.

“He suffers from chronic pain, chronic fatigue”, she said.

“For example we were on holidays recently and he was in the swimming pool playing around like a happy, normal 7-year-old boy; and the next day he wasn’t able to move, he was so tired”.

“We had to bring him round in a buggy all day cause he’s too heavy for us to carry now”.

“At seven, he’s mortified that he’s in a buggy – but it’s either a buggy or a wheelchair”.

His father. Gareth, says his son likes to play just like everyone else.

But they do not want to keep him on drugs long-term.

Lorna says they want to stop disappointing their son.

Stephanie Casey is head of campaigning with Arthritis Ireland.

She says that for relatively little money, the incoming government could make a significant impact on the lives of hundreds of children.