The pandemic delayed a Calgarian's kidney transplant, now her family worries it may be too late
Jenna Ursu is one of the 81,600 Albertans on the province's wait list for surgery and her family says it may now be too late for her to receive the kidney transplant that could save her life.
Her husband Kyle Ursu says Jenna was diagnosed with stage five kidney failure a year ago and her health has declined rapidly in the months since. The 30-year-old is a mother of two young children.
"We have videos of her dancing around the Christmas tree this time last year, and now she's in a hospital as we speak, fighting for her life because of delays due to the pandemic," Kyle said Thursday.
Her health spiralled downwards so quickly, Kyle says, that by the time she completed training to administer dialysis at home, she was too sick to do so.
The search for a suitable kidney donor for Jenna didn't need to branch out very far — Jenna's sister turned out to be a suitable candidate.
"Once I was identified as the donor, we went through a series of tests and they let me know I was a six out of six match," said Whitney James, Jenna's sister.
"I was approved by the psychiatrist back in October and we're just waiting for a surgery date. And that's been an ongoing battle with COVID."
Kyle Ursu (left) and Whitney James (right), Jenna's sister, say James is a match, but the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented the surgery from going ahead.
ALBERTA'S WAIT LIST GROWS
They haven't been able to get a date for surgery, and they're not alone.
According to a report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information, Alberta hospitals performed an average of 2,800 fewer surgeries each month for the first 16 months of the pandemic.
That doesn't capture the thousands of procedures that were delayed or cancelled during the fourth wave of the pandemic, when Alberta's health care system was overwhelmed by COVID-19.
The province's heath minister said Tuesday that the wait list for surgeries ballooned from about 68,000 people in August to more than 81,600 people this month.
"Postponements are a major concern, and my heart goes out to all Albertans and their families who had their surgeries postponed. They add to the burden on patients and families and they mean more people are waiting for scheduled surgeries," Health Minister Jason Copping said.
"We're watching the waiting list closely."
The province hopes to bring the wait list down to about 68,000 people by mid-2022.
WAIT MAY BE TOO LONG: FAMILY
Jenna's family worries the delay she's had to face already may make it so that she can no longer get the kidney transplant she desperately needs.
"My wife's health has basically gotten to the point where she won't survive a kidney transplant because of the delay due to COVID," said Kyle.
"It's very hard. I feel like the health care system has let my family down and I just have zero faith in it. I feel like we were put to the back burner over and over and over again," he said.
The family's outlook is now measured in weeks, not months, Kyle says. They hope Jenna is well enough to make it through Christmas and into the New Year.
A GoFundMe has been started to try and help cover some of the medical and childcare costs for Jenna and her family.
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