Thursday, August 26, 2021

Barry Soper: The life saving surgery cancelled by lockdown


We've been told repeatedly from the Beehive's Pulpit of Truth to be kind, it comes repeatedly from the Prime Minister's and her fellow preacher the Director General of Health's sermon sheet. 

But it's the old story, it'd be nice to see them practice what they preach. 

In fairness neither of them can be across the minutiae of everything that goes on, but whether they like it or not, the buck stops at their altar. 

We know the revolving door of detention has taken its toll on many fronts, on social gatherings, weddings and funerals to name a few. Even the late Sir Michael Cullen can't have a fitting farewell where many of us would have liked to have gone to celebrate his life. 

If you have ever wondered what it must have been like to live in a totalitarian state, then wonder no more. 

But it's the inhumane face of this pandemic that could never have been imagined 18 months ago. 

Take the case of Aucklander Chris Hunter who was on tenterhooks this week, who wouldn't be?  He was due to undergo a kidney transplant today, everything had been prepared, a donor had been found, his brother Shane who lives in South Africa was the only one viable out of the four family members tested. 

The family was coming to the end of an 18 month process with the Auckland District Health Board even facilitating the flight and an emergency MIQ for Shane who had completed all the additional tests in the isolation facility.   

They were heartened by Ashley Bloomfield's words from the pulpit after lockdown: all hospitals are open for people who require urgent or active care and they shouldn't delay in seeking it. 

Chris' phone rang at 4.30pm on Tuesday with the caller telling him his lifesaving surgery was cancelled. They couldn't tell him when it was likely to be rescheduled., there was no plan. Essentially there weren't enough staff to operate the theatre. 

Not surprisingly this 54 year old father of two's family was devastated, they even offered to fly the surgeon, the donor and Chris to Christchurch where there's a transplant unit, offering to pay for the associated costs. 

The irony is that if the donor's kidney came from a cadaver as a result of a car crash, the operation would have been done forthwith. 

The family are resourceful with Chris managing to contact the Auckland Hospital boss Elsa Clare who promised to call him back, a call which wasn't made until the next morning, after he'd been interviewed on Mike Hosking's Newstalk ZB's breakfast show! 

An elderly family member managed to get Bloomfield's personal email address and desperately pleaded the case and got an almost instant reply. 

The health boss was sure, he was told, they would reschedule the surgery as soon as possible. 

They haven't got long to wait as Chris' health deteriorates. If this isn't a case for urgent surgery, it's hard to fathom what is. 

Barry Soper is a New Zealand political journalist, and has been featured regularly on radio and television since the 1970s. Currently, Soper's main role is political editor at Newstalk ZB, a radio network in New Zealand.

1 comment:

Doug Longmire said...

I heard the interview with Mike Hosking live. It was a very distressing call to hear. I am very pleased to hear that surgery will take place.

It is an indictment on our medical "system" that this ever occurred, and a dying man was basically put in the too hard basket.