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Lower Mainland mother wants children’s elective surgeries to go ahead, despite COVID cases

5-year-old Jocelyn Ellison’s surgery was put on hold in January
Jocelyn Ellison needed surgery to remove a ureteral stump, a deformity that was causing the child to have multiple kidney infections and other health problems. But it was put on hold due to cancelled elective surgeries. (Special to The News)

A Maple Ridge mother believes elective surgeries for children shouldn’t be put on hold because of government mandates surrounding COVID-19 hospital cases.

Caylie Valley’s five-year-old daughter needed surgery to remove a ureteral stump, a deformity that was causing the child to have multiple kidney infections and other health problems. But Valley said when elective surgeries were cancelled in January, it was “super frustrating” to watch her child suffer and struggle with daily pain while waiting to get a surgical date.

Jocelyn Ellison was born with deformities in her urinary tract and also deformed kidneys. She has had numerous urinary tract infections, (UTI), at least one every month where she had to spend more than a week in hospital each time. And she has had eight surgeries, including this latest, to try to fix the problem.

Most of her experience took place in Ontario before she moved with her family to Maple Ridge about two and a half years ago – just before the beginning of the pandemic.

Ellison was transferred to BC Children’s Hospital, because her problems were ongoing and shortly after she was diagnosed with kidney failure due to scarring from the amount of UTIs she had.

She had surgery where doctors removed a piece of her kidney and she was doing better. However, she was still suffering from at least three UTIs a year, even though she was taking a daily antibiotic to kill the bad bacteria in her bladder.

She would still have breakthrough infections where she would get sick despite the antibiotic, said her mother.

When Valley was told her daughter would need surgery to remove a stump on her urethra, she was hopeful that this would be the surgery to stop the UTIs for good. An operation date was set for November last year but had to be cancelled because Ellison caught a cold. She was told her daughter would be called for the next available spot.

Valley heard nothing over the Christmas holidays so in January she gave the hospital a call. She was told elective surgeries had been put on hold and that staff were hoping to start scheduling surgical dates after the Jan. 18 deadline.

“Jocelyn juggles and has pain daily and so I’m watching my daughter suffer, have pain. She has toileting problems and she needs a lot of extra work and it’s not easy for her, she’s in kindergarten,” explained Valley.

“My family, we’re all vaccinated. We’re pro-science. We really want to respect all the mandates that are put in place. But this one was like really affecting our daughter. It was just really hard for us to accept that,” she said.

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Finally the hospital contacted her and told her they were allowed to do one elective surgery on one date, Jan. 24, and that Ellison had been chosen.

Ellison has responded well after the four- hour surgery. She has a six-inch scar across her abdomen. Ellison was able to return home after two days, promising doctors that she would take it easy for the next two months.

But she is already bored, her mother said. They are already planning a return to school, half days at first, with no recess.

Valley said it is unknown at this point if her daughter will need another surgery. Currently she is still on the daily antibiotic until she heals. Once she has recovered from the surgery, she will be taken off the medicine to test the waters.

The hope is she will be able to live the rest of her life without coming down with anymore UTIs or having to take medicine to combat them.

Valley is hoping children’s elective surgeries, like her daughter’s, will no longer be put on hold because of COVID cases.

“As much as we understand why mandates are happening, we just feel like for kids, it’s not fair,” said Valley.

And she wants to see more people get vaccinated.

“[Fewer] people in the hospitals means more beds open, and they won’t be putting pauses on pediatric surgeries to make room for COVID cases. Everyone doing their part to protect their community,” Valley said.

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Colleen Flanagan

About the Author: Colleen Flanagan

I got my start with Black Press Media in 2003 as a photojournalist.
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