extreme sickness | 

New mum who vomited 20 times a day gave up home due to cost of anti-nausea meds

Aishling Molloy (27) is one of 1 in 100-150 women who will be hospitalised with debilitating hyperemesis gravidarum

Aishling Molloy was vomiting up to 20 when times a day when she had baby Liam

Denise Smith

A new mum who vomited up to 20 times a day and lost two stone during her pregnancy due to extreme sickness has slammed the Government for abandoning vulnerable women.

Aishling Molloy (27) was forced to give up her home when she was diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum - a debilitating condition that causes excessive vomiting - due to the staggering cost of her anti-nausea medication.

Around 1 in 100 to 150 pregnant women will be admitted to hospital due to the dehydration and malnutrition that hyperemesis can cause and without adequate treatment the condition can be potentially life threatening.

Cariban is an effective drug designed to counter the harrowing symptoms caused by the condition.

Aishling Molloy was vomiting up to 20 when times a day when she had baby Liam

Despite being prescribed in the Coombe, Rotunda and Holles Street maternity hospitals, it is unavailable to women under the drug payment scheme or the medical card as it is not currently licensed for use in Ireland.

The cost of treatment can run upwards of €3,000 over the course of a pregnancy, meaning many women simply cannot afford the life-changing medication.

Bedridden and unable to eat an entire meal throughout her pregnancy, Aishling and her partner, Shane, were unable to afford their rent and cover the cost of the medication that was so desperately needed to keep Aishling fit and well.

Welcoming their baby boy Liam into the world 11 weeks ago, the Mayo woman said she is speaking directly to Health Minister Stephen Donnelly - who previously promised access to the drug - to end the nightmare ordeal so many pregnant women are faced with.

"I got pregnant unexpectedly last March. A week later I was in hospital with severe dehydration. I was vomiting up to 20 times a day. I would only have to move and I would get sick. I was basically bed bound, everything from the sound of the TV to the sensation of brushing my teeth would make me vomit.

"I remember one day I spent the entire day trying to eat a cracker. It was constant, non-stop nausea. This is not morning sickness."

The devoted mum was prescribed Cariban to ease her symptoms, but she had no idea of the excessive cost of the drug.

"I was told to take four tablets a day, they told me it was quite expensive, but I didn't realise it wasn't covered on any scheme. It was costing over €230 a month.

"In total, my pregnancy expenses cost over €1,300, we could no longer afford to rent so we had to move home.

"I tried to cut down to two tablets to save on cost and then I ended up back in hospital again, I was so dehydrated I could hardly walk. I actually fainted in A&E.

"I felt so isolated and the financial strain was awful. I was trying to save for a baby but it was impossible. I had to drop out of college and give up my job, too, because I couldn't work or study. I was on social welfare barely getting by.

"We are constantly told only one or two per cent of women suffer with this condition, but it is debilitating and the women who do suffer matter. We end up in hospital and that is going to cost the health sector more."

Coming under increasing fire, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, who previously said the State could not reimburse the cost of the drug, has now asked the Women's Health Taskforce to examine options for funding the severe pregnancy sickness drug.

Sara, partner Niall and baby Kenny

For mum-of-one, Sara Turner (33), the condition was so traumatic she cannot face into another pregnancy.

"At one point I was getting sick from 7am to 10pm. I wouldn't even say I had it that bad, but I couldn't laugh, sneeze or cough without vomiting, I couldn't even brush my teeth without throwing up. I went to the dentist afterwards and she said my teeth were like some of her bulimic patients because the damage was so bad.

"It was hellish and I'd never willingly get pregnant again. I had no clue about the condition before it impacted me. The hospital told me it only started to be taken seriously here when Kate Middleton got it."

Forced to pay an eye-watering €1,700 over the course of her pregnancy, the young mum who lives in Blackrock, Dublin, with her partner Niall, says at one point her condition was so severe she began to vomit blood.

"I couldn't take time off work because I had to pay for it all, and I also needed money for taxis to hospital for appointments or getting fluids, because I would puke on the bus. I carried doggy poo bags with me everywhere because I would need to vomit.

"Cost aside, not being believed was the hardest thing for me and how people dumbed it down and offered other remedies, like ginger. I remember crying every single day.

"There are so many people who don't believe it's a thing, so even worse when it's the health professionals and Government.

"My doctor was also horrifically unsupportive, he told me it's normal to not be able to hold down water.

"I feel really grateful that it wasn't a permanent thing. If it was covered on the medical card it would make it so much less of a traumatic experience."

Hyperemesis Ireland is now demanding routine treatments for hyperemesis to be included on the Drugs Payment and Medical Card schemes amid growing concern about the financial hardship women are facing.

The charity is encouraging supporters to ask their TDs to call on the HSE and Minister for Health to push for treatments for Hyperemesis Gravidarum to be included on the schemes and to engage on social media using the hashtag #HG2costly.

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