Maite and Luis, the parents of the five-year-old boy with type 1 diabetes mellitus. A.J.G.
The mother who is fighting to continue looking after her diabetic son in a Malaga town

The mother who is fighting to continue looking after her diabetic son in a Malaga town

After three years of providing 24-hour care to her little boy, the hospital where Maite Mañas is a nurse has asked her to return to work part-time

Antonio J. Guerrero


Friday, 14 June 2024, 13:28

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Three years ago, little Gabriel was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes mellitus. He was two years old and in nursery school. Since then he has needed continuous care as a change in his sugar or insulin levels could lead to a coma. He has a device connected to his parents' mobile phone that updates them with his levels every five minutes.

Now aged five, Gabriel goes to school just like other children his age. For almost three years the boy's mother has been able to take advantage of a law for children with serious illnesses and cancer, which allows a couple, if they both work, to ask to look after their child without losing their job or salary, but without having to go to work. Luis Robledo and María Teresa (Maite) Mañas were clear about which of them would ask for this leave. Luis works in a bank and Teresa is a nurse at Antequera hospital.

But on 6 June, Teresa was notified that she had to return to her job at the hospital on a part-time basis, so she can no longer be with Gabriel 24 hours a day. This diabetes "without a cure, is classified as serious and requires urgent and constant monitoring and care".

Teresa had been allowed, by law, to be with him at all times, but now "without having changed any circumstance in the law or in my son's illness, they do not recognise it". When he is at his worst, she waits in the school playground in case she is needed.

The couple do not understand how they are now taking away "a right that was recognised by this same hospital almost three years ago, but without any changes having taken place, they are not renewing it". They have tried to get answers from the hospital itself, from Malaga's health authority, from the Ombudsman, from the courts and have now turned to the media to get their voices heard.

Teresa says, "Nobody chooses diabetes, but Gabriel chooses to stay in school, stay with his friends and live a life like any other child, and we choose to have the possibility for our son to lead that life". The mother explains that her son has a glucose sensor and "we give him insulin through a pump in his body". She adds, "If we don't act in time by giving him sugar or insulin, he can go into a coma, either because he is under or over the level."

The young child has a blood sugar monitoring device and an insulin pump. SUR

The doctor has determined in his report "that I should have continuous, direct, permanent, urgent and 24-hour care". Now, "if there is a drop or rise in sugar levels I can go out, but even if there is no traffic it takes at least 20 minutes to get from the hospital to the school". On Tuesday "we had a big scare when he had severe hypoglycaemia and although they were giving him sugar, he couldn't get back on his feet. When I got to school, he was about to lose consciousness."

She does not understand "how my son's life can be put at risk". She insists that "I am not on holiday; I hope that tomorrow there will be a cure, that he can lead a normal, everyday life and that I can go back to work as before. The only thing I want is to take care of my son. That I get back what I am entitled to, that he doesn't have situations that put his life at risk."

In response to the complaint, Malaga's health department stated: "Given that the child is not currently in hospital or in a critical phase of treatment, she has been granted a 50 per cent reduction in working hours in order to adapt the timetable to the needs of the family unit with the reduced working hours and receiving 100 per cent of the salary".

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