The foundation of the charity was crystallised in 2011 after Jason Slevin – the teenager who received an anonymous donation, had the scoliosis surgery he urgently needed.
Jason was operated on by some of the Straight Ahead medical team. The success of his operation led to the development of a programme to help others in similar situations.
The operations are conducted at weekends and at Christmas, during downtime in the theatres at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin.
The usual cost of an operation is €50,000 but Straight Ahead has managed to put together a package delivering the operations for an average of €15,000. This is possible since the consultant staff are working for free and the spinal implants used to hold the patients’ spines in a corrected position have been donated by Irish and international medical supplies companies. These donations can be worth up to €20,000 per child.
The first operation under the Straight Ahead charity was in November 2011 on 12 year old Bronwyn Kavanagh – Smith. She had a double curve in her spine which deformed to more than a 90° bend in two areas. She had been on the surgical waiting list for over 12 months and further delays could have led to multiple surgeries with incrementally higher risk, as she entered puberty.
Following surgery, Bronwyn’s spine was very much straighter and better aligned and she was discharged from hospital within five days of her surgery, “more than 3 inches taller” she told her medical team.
Children treated successfully in OLCH were from all over the country travelling from as far as Donegal, Cork and Kerry or as near as Dublin to avail of their surgeries.