Topics:  epilepsy, neurological disorders, struggle to find treatment

Finding proper medical care is a struggle for Matthew

Mary Wilson says it's difficult to find the proper medical care for her grandson Matthew Duncan.
Mary Wilson says it's difficult to find the proper medical care for her grandson Matthew Duncan. Darryn Smith

MATTHEW Duncan is 10 years old and has never spent a whole month seizure-free.

The Narangba State School student was diagnosed with epilepsy at three years of age and his family has been struggling to find treatment for him since.

In December last year, he suffered through 13 seizures in three days, including three grand mal seizures in three hours.

The rest of the time Matthew suffers from focal dyscognitive seizures.

"It feels like the cobwebs are all over me," he said quietly.

His single mum, Naomi, works full-time to pay for his medical bills and he spends a lot of time with his grandma, Naomi's mother, Mary Wilson.

The situation was difficult enough but Matthew's neurological specialist left the Royal Children's Hospital Brisbane at the end of November to take up a teaching position. Matthew's condition has became almost unmanageable since.

"Very few neurologists deal with children in the age bracket from three to 14 year olds," Mary Wilson said. "There's not enough specialists.... and it doesn't matter whether you go private or public."

She said Matthew was actually one of the lucky ones.

"A lot of the children with epilepsy, they've got autism, they're deaf, they're blind, they've got other things."

Epilepsy Queensland CEO Helen Whitehead agreed there was a shortage of adolescent and pediatric neurologists.A spokesman for Health Minister Lawrence Springborg directed questions to the Royal Children's Hospital Brisbane.

A Royal Children's Hospital spokesman said the hospital had two full-time and four part-time neurology specialists.

"In 2012, the RCH had 2447 neurology appointments, 861 of them were for new patients," he said. "In 2013, the RCH has seen 532 new patients to date."

Matthew only has one wish. "I just want to be a regular kid," he said.



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