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‘All I hear is the ventilator’: 24-year-old Alberta woman in ICU after putting off COVID-19 vaccine

Click to play video: 'Alberta woman lands in hospital days before first COVID-19 vaccination appointment' Alberta woman lands in hospital days before first COVID-19 vaccination appointment
WATCH ABOVE: The Canadian Armed Forces and the Red Cross are on their way to help Alberta hospitals inundated with COVID-19 patients. One of those patients is Jilleen Oar, who contracted the coronavirus just before she was set to get her first dose of the vaccine. As Heather Yourex-West explains, Oar is now in intensive care – Oct 4, 2021

Shakira Oar has spent much of the last month at her big sister’s Jilleen’s bedside. The 24-year-old from Slave Lake, Alta., has been in an Edmonton intensive care unit since Sept. 10 after contracting COVID-19.

“It’s hard to see my sister like this because I’m so used to hearing her talking with me and laughing with me,” the 19-year-old told Global News from outside the University of Alberta Hospital. “Now I just hear the ventilator going and going and going. That’s all I hear.”

A photo of Shakira Oar on Oct. 4, 2021. Wes Rosa/ Global News

Oar says she and her sister had both been hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine at first but in August, she says, they both decided it was the right thing to do.

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Read more: Alberta reports slight drop in critically ill COVID-19 patients in hospitals

“I finally convinced myself, because I was totally against it at first — I was listening to so many rumours about it,” she says. “My sister was against it, too; she was scared of it.

“The last week of August, we convinced her to get it but she ended up catching COVID and it was too late for her to get any of the doses at all.”

A week after testing positive, Oar says her sister became very ill. She was admitted first to the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre in Fort McMurray, Alta., before being transferred to Edmonton on Sept. 10.

Click to play video: '‘Extraordinary measures’ needed to fight COVID-19 in Alberta, Saskatchewan: CMA' ‘Extraordinary measures’ needed to fight COVID-19 in Alberta, Saskatchewan: CMA
‘Extraordinary measures’ needed to fight COVID-19 in Alberta, Saskatchewan: CMA – Sep 29, 2021

“Her lungs are really infected with COVID pneumonia and she has or had a blood clot in her lung so the damage is severe,” said Oar.

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As of Monday, Alberta Health Services says there were 298 patients in intensive care across the province. The number represents a three per cent decline from last week but well above the province’s normal patient volume.

Click to play video: 'The trickle-down effect: Alberta ICU physician worries about ‘deserving patients’ not getting care' The trickle-down effect: Alberta ICU physician worries about ‘deserving patients’ not getting care
The trickle-down effect: Alberta ICU physician worries about ‘deserving patients’ not getting care – Sep 23, 2021

There are currently 374 ICU beds open in Alberta; 201 of those spaces have been created in recent weeks to accommodate the surging numbers of COVID-19 patients.

The new spaces have come at the expense of thousands of scheduled surgeries that have had to be postponed.

Read more: 'We weren't thinking of other people' — Unvaccinated Alberta man on his time in ICU with COVID-19

Oar says her family is trying to remain hopeful for her sister but she admits that seeing Jilleen so sick has been difficult.

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“It’s hard. It’s definitely hard on me and my family. We wish this didn’t happen…. We told her to get vaccinated earlier.”

Click to play video: 'Canadian military nurses arriving in Alberta to help with COVID-19 fight' Canadian military nurses arriving in Alberta to help with COVID-19 fight
Canadian military nurses arriving in Alberta to help with COVID-19 fight – Oct 4, 2021

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