Brave Lauren let down by the State

NewsBy Lynne Kelleher
Lauren McGrath
Lauren McGrath

Meet the brave nine-year-old who cannot go to school because she has been denied a Special Needs Assistant (SNA) – despite the fact she passes out 40 times a day.

Lauren McGrath has managed to survive cancer twice, but the illness has left her with a rare case of brain scarring which causes her to suffer regular seizures.

Now, after surviving years of gruelling treatments, the remarkable young girl has been left devastated at being unable to go to school and mix with her friends.

She has been told she is not entitled to her own full-time SNA, which would prevent her injuring herself from falls.

Since being diagnosed at three-and-a-half years old, she has endured hospital stays, chemotherapy, full body radiation, a bone marrow transplant and a bout of meningitis, but the Limerick girl has always determinedly gone to school when she felt well.

She beamed throughout her very first day at St. James Primary School in Cappagh when she was five, even though it was shortly after a spell of chemotherapy.

Brave Lauren and mum June 

The treatment cleared the cancer, but has left Lauren with rare brain scarring causing epileptic seizures, which means she needs to be constantly watched in case she hurts herself by hitting her head or crashing to the floor.

Her mother June McGrath said her deeply distressed daughter has been at home since September with just two hours home tuition a week, after she was told

Lauren didn’t qualify for her own SNA to help her through the day without injury.

“It’s like she doesn’t exist after she fought so hard to survive. It doesn’t seem to matter what she went through,” said June.

“She is a social butterfly, she is a little chatterbox. She loves people. She’s funny, she’s sociable, she is always smiling. It’s such an injustice after being through all that to be just left sitting at home and nobody cares.

“She misses all her friends terribly. I have friends over Saturday and Sunday and they tell her about school and it’s the highlight of her week.

“Even now we can’t do Christmas because she has no idea what she wants because she hasn’t been able to talk to the children.”

Lauren is so anxious to get back to the classroom with her pals that she has even worn her school uniform at home.