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.”
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.
“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.
“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.
“The doctor said it would most likely take a miracle for her to recover.”
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.
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.
Oar says her family is trying to remain hopeful for her sister but she admits that seeing Jilleen so sick has been difficult.
“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.”