Members of a southern Alberta family continue to hold out hope that their mother will pull through after being granted a short reprieve that will prevent the removal of her ventilator that had been planned for Saturday.
Darlene Crayne, 71, has been in a medically induced coma in the intensive care unit at Chinook Regional Hospital in Lethbridge since August 26 after the senior struggled to breathe, collapsed and suffered a heart attack.
The medical team attending to Crayne has maintained that she has minimal brain function and doctors reached a decision to pull the plug on her ventilator this weekend.
Crayne’s daughter Miranda Holowka and Holowka’s sisters say their mother was a kind woman who worked two jobs while raising them. Holowka says her mother deserves an opportunity to live. “We’re not asking for forever, we’re just asking for some time.”
A letter penned by the attending doctor and hospital says Crayne’s test results indicated abnormalities consistent with brain damage caused by a lack of oxygen. The findings of the tests suggest the senior has limited brain function.
Holowka says she sees promise during her interactions with her mother. “When I'm in there and I'm reading to her, she reacts to me. She opens her eyes while I read.” Videos recorded on cell phones during ICU visits appear to show Crayne responding to verbal commands. The family says the videos are evidence that the senior should be permitted additional time to recover.
According to Holowka, her mother has been given penicillin in hospital, a drug the senior is allergic to, as well as strong pain killers including fentanyl. She suggests the drugs likely exacerbated her mother’s medical problems.
“We don't want her to be in an induced coma, which is what they did, or in a vegetation state at all,” said Holowka. “We just want to give her more time to, first of all, recover from the medications that they gave her and see if she improves.”
While Holowka continues to champion for allowing her mother a chance to recover, another of Darlene’s children has sided with the medical team and agreed with the decision to stop the ventilator. The absence of a unified directive from the family places the final decision in the hands of the doctor.
After threatening legal action, the family has now been told Darlene will remain on a ventilator until Wednesday afternoon.
Officials with Chinook Regional Hospital and Alberta Health Services would not comment on the confidential matter regarding a patient out of respect for both the patient and the patient’s family.
With files from CTV’s Terry Vogt.