She has a liver donor, but no hospital bed
A 35-year-old Ladner, B.C., woman with end-stage liver disease says she and her doctors have been desperately trying for weeks to schedule a transplant operation at Vancouver General Hospital but without luck.
Michelle Way says she's been told the reason for the delay is because health officials decided to reduce elective surgeries during the Olympic Games.
"Because my liver transplant is considered elective surgery, it's gone into the cooking pot with all the other elective surgeries, even though we are in a race against time," she told CTV News Wednesday night.
Anna Marie D'Angelo, a Vancouver Coastal Health official, said elective operations are being reduced by 30 percent during the Games because history has shown that demand for medical services goes down during the Olympics.
Surgeries are also being reduced to allow doctors to attend or volunteer during the Games.
But D'Angelo said urgent surgeries will still proceed.
Way, who suffers from Wilson's disease -- a genetic illness which has caused a buildup of copper in her liver -- said her situation is urgent.
She said doctors have told her her liver disease is affecting the blood flow to her heart and that she is rapidly getting sicker.
As of Wednesday night, the mother of a two-year-old child was scheduled to be admitted to hospital where she says she will be connected to feeding tubes.
Way's friend -- the maid of honour at her wedding -- is her liver donor and is ready to proceed with the operation now, she said.
"She's likely my only hope."
Way said because she opted for a live-donor transplant as opposed to a cadaver organ transplant, the operation is considered elective.
She said her doctors have attempted to have her case reclassified as an urgent case but that has gone nowhere.
Reached by phone, NDP health critic Adrian Dix called Way's wait absurd.
"It's absurd in this case that anybody would be waiting for surgery under these conditions – Olympics or no Olympics," he told CTV News.
"Many people, thousands, are seeing surgeries delayed during the Games at hospitals all across the Lower Mainland. It doesn't make sense. All it does is extend the wait time and save the government money in this fiscal year. In fact, I think what the government has done is blame the Olympics for wanting to cut back on surgeries and health care this year," he said.
Choking back tears, Way pleaded for health officials to reconsider her case.
"I'm ready now. My friend is ready now. The surgeons are ready now. Everything's ready to go. We just need VGH to say they have a space for us," she said.
"I could die waiting even though I have a live donor. And that's totally unnecessary."