A ten-month-old in Edmonton has had his surgery indefinitely postponed because ICUs are overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients in Alberta.
Gavin Petryk was meant to get corrective surgery for a congenital condition on Wednesday morning.
Instead, his parents got a call Tuesday evening that it had been cancelled.
Before his first birthday, Gavin is feeling the impacts of a hospital system that can’t keep up.
“He can get the surgery as he gets older, but there’s evidence that its poorer outcomes as he gets older and older,” James Petryk explained.
“They try to target this surgery at ten months old.”
Many elective surgeries in Alberta are being cancelled in order to focus resources on COVID-19 patients in the ICU.
However, “elective” doesn’t mean they aren’t still essential operations, according to one doctor.
“In medical terms, elective just means a surgery that has been scheduled,” Dr. Gary Gray said.
“I would certainly argue that someone sitting at home awaiting repair of a bone fracture…that person urgently needs surgery but we consider it elective because it’s been scheduled.”
Gray is an associate clinical professor in the department of surgery at the University of Alberta.
“I am concerned for my colleagues, I see how stressed they are about not being able to get patients in. I know in the urology department alone in the last couple of weeks there were 15-20 big cancer cases that had to be postponed,” he said.
Brin Marks, 16, was scheduled have an operation next week to improve her quality of life. She has a heart and lung disease — severe pulmonary arterial hypertension — that’s not curable.
“She needs her tonsils and adenoids removed because it’s affecting her breathing. It’s something that will make her feel a lot better,” mother Jessica Marks said.
Her mom said the surgery has been postponed until beds open up in the ICU and COVID-19 cases go down.
“I’m sad for my daughter,” Marks said. “We know so many families that can’t have procedures done. I shouldn’t be going this way.”
Petryk and Marks hope by sharing their stories they will encourage Albertans to protect one another with the vaccine.
“My daughter, who is fighting a battle, rolled up her sleeve with no fears. No reservations. She didn’t do it for herself. She did it to protect others,” Marks said.
“Maybe there are people out there that will change their mind when they see a cancer patient or a kid having their surgeries cancelled. Maybe that’s the catalyst.”