Five-year-old Jocelyn Ellison has a genetic deformity that causes constant urinary tract infections. Her doctors hoped that surgically removing the deformity — a ureteral stump — would stop the infections, but that surgery has now been delayed.
“The pain hurts because I have to go to the hospital to get a lot of needles,” Jocelyn told Global News. “And my kidneys are a bit hurt on the side and it makes me feel sad. I get all the tubes in me.”
Jocelyn has been on antibiotics since birth, said mother Caylie Valley, but breakthrough infections have continued. Those infections have scarred her kidneys and Jocelyn has already had one kidney removed.
“She gets a fever, she gets sick, she has very bad pain — if anyone has had a UTI they would understand,” said Valley.
“I’ve seen her go through so much and I’ve seen her already lose a kidney, so with that in her history, I didn’t realize she would be on the elective list for surgery, I thought she would be more on the urgent list.”
Last month, the B.C. government announced that scheduled elective surgeries would be postponed beginning Jan. 4, as the province grapples with an outbreak of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
The decision was taken, said Health Minister Adrian Dix, to help manage the pressure on hospitals and redeploy staff to where they’re needed most.
“It’s not just an issue of, we have this many beds available, it’s also a significant staffing issue which is why we’re taking the steps we’re taking,” he said on Jan. 7.
Jocelyn has had more than 30 UTIs in her life. She just started kindergarten, Valley added, and already the pain and doctor’s appointments are disrupting her education.
She said she was “shocked” to learn Jocelyn’s surgery was postponed, and said the province should review individual patient history before deciding a surgery is “elective” and can be delayed.
“On the outside the surgery might not look very important, but if you look at her history and what she’s gone through and what’s at risk if she continues to get these breakthrough infections, it’s very important,” she explained.
Jocelyn’s medical details were shared with the Health Department for this story, but the a request for comment was not returned.
Jocelyn said her sister has good kidneys and she wants good kidneys too.
“I want to get really better,” she told Global News.
Valley said the process has been “defeating and frustrating” and there’s little recourse.
“All we can do is kind of just wait to hear back from her doctors to see when they can get her in.”
Between 3,000 and 3,500 non-essential surgeries have been delayed per week in B.C., and Dix said rescheduling efforts will be made in the coming months based on capacity and COVID-19 case numbers.
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