British Columbia Man Dies After Kidney Surgery Was Postponed Due to COVID-19

Brittany M. Hughes | May 4, 2020
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As the world continues to struggle socially, economically and physically amid the coronavirus pandemic, one thing is becoming increasingly and painfully clear: COVID-19 isn't the only thing that can kill a person. 

According to this, a man in British Columbia died after his surgery to prepare his kidneys for dialysis was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Chris Walcroft, 50, was just one of thousands of people in nations around the world whose surgeries, ranging from elective procedures to direly needed operations, that have been postponed or even indefinitely canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, as hospitals struggle to keep patients apart and prepare for a COVID-19 influx that, in many cases, has never come.

Walcroft’s wife told CTV News that her husband was told last August that he may only have a year to live because his kidneys were only functioning at about 17 percent. But after the coronavirus pandemic shut everything down, she said her husband’s surgery to prepare him for dialysis, originally planned for mid-March, was “canceled without explanation.” Instead, he was scheduled for an appointment to see his specialist in mid-April.

By then, he was dead.

“He never got a chance to see his specialist or get another chance to be able to get his surgery,” she claims.

“I’m absolutely sure I’m not the only one that this has happened to and I’m not the only one that this is going to happen to. It’s not fair,” she told CTV News. “People are sick with other stuff as well. This is ridiculous. All we hear about is COVID-19, [but] other things are happening.”

The postponement of elective surgeries might be irritating for some, but it can be downright debilitating – and even deadly – for others. Multiple reports of patients waiting in pain have trickled through the news cycle as the COVID-19 shutdown drags on, even as many hospitals fail to reach the overwhelming influx of coronavirus patients that were once predicted. In British Columbia alone, more than 11,000 surgeries were canceled to make sure hospitals had enough beds for coronavirus patients. But as of May 1, the province had only seen  2,112 reported cases and 111 deaths, far fewer than were predicted.

And as thousands of patients await procedures that have been postponed with no end date in sight, any physicians have expressed worry that some conditions that were manageable at one point might become more difficult to deal with once the pandemic has passed and non-emergency procedures are resumed. Others say they’re concerned about the massive and ever-mounting backlog of non-COVID cases that will be waiting at the end of this tunnel.

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