Trish Edwards, waiting for heart bypass surgery.
Trish Edwards, waiting for heart bypass surgery.

Quadruple bypass op delayed again

GRAFTON grandmother Trish Edwards has experienced a third delay in her bid to have a lifesaving heart bypass operation.

Yesterday, the 66-year-old was preparing for an air ambulance flight to Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital where a quadruple bypass operation had been booked for today.

However, before take-off she received the unwelcome news that her operation had been delayed for the third time in the past month.

Her daughter, Wendy Ann-Edwards, said her mother was told that because she was on blood-thinning medication her operation had been delayed for another five days.

She will stay in Grafton Base Hospital until she is ready to go to Sydney for the operation.

Twice in the past month Mrs Edwards had been scheduled for her surgery, only to have the hospital call off the operation because it did not have a bed for her.

Two weeks ago the hospital pulled the plug on her procedure two days before her operation and rescheduled for May 26.

“They had a bed last Wednesday at 7.30am, but between then and midday there’s obviously been another emergency and the intensive care bed wasn’t available any more, so they had to put me off again,” Mrs Edwards said.

“Speaking to people down there it’s not staff. The whole theatre crew was standing around trying to organise an intensive care bed.

“If something comes up in the CBD area there that’s an emergency the bed’s got to be used by them.”

Mrs Edwards said the two postponements of her operation had taken a toll on her nerves.

“You sort of get built up about it the first time. Two days before they said ‘no, we can’t do it’ and they had to cancel all surgery that week,” she said.

“They re-scheduled it for last Wednesday at 7.30am it was all systems go and then it was ....”

Now Mrs Edwards has to go through it all again, as yet another obstacle has blocked her path to recovery.

Mrs Edwards was also worried about the expense involved in getting down to Sydney for the operation. “It’s the expense of cancelled airline tickets, and this time it was two return airline tickets and all the accommodation and cabs and all that sort of thing,” she said.

The NSW Government’s Isolated Patients Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme (IPTAAS) has come to the Edwards family’s assistance, forking out for airline tickets.

The physical problems have been just as pressing for Mrs Edwards.

“It’s the normal angina pain that people have when they’ve got a heart condition,” she said.

“It’s pretty intense sometimes. That’s why I brought myself in (to Grafton Base Hospital) last night.

“It’s pretty scary because I’ve already had a couple of heart attacks anyway.”

Wendy-Ann said it was lucky that her aunt, Margaret O’Connor, who lives with her mum, was able to get her to hospital when the pain struck on Monday night.

Family history suggests the operation on the eldest of 10 children needs to go ahead as soon as possible.

“Mum and dad and four siblings have had bypasses. One (a brother, John) died at 42 about 15 years ago.”

“One specialist told us that unfortunately our parents were cholesterol breeders. They had high cholesterol and we inherited that genetic trait.”

Mrs Edwards said she did not want to attribute any of her problems to hospital staff at St Vincent’s.

She said the nursing staff, wherever she has been, have been “absolutely fantastic”.

“It’s just that the facilities aren’t there for them to do the surgery,” she said.

“There was a full theatre staff standing around for three or four hours last week because there was no bed.”

A spokesperson for St Vincent’s, David Faktor, said the hospital could not do anything about the latest delay as it was too dangerous to go ahead with her operation while she was on still on one of her current medications.

He said it was the hospital’s policy to make sure the hospital fixed a date for surgery if patients had experienced similar delays to Mrs Edwards.

“I can pretty much assure her that once she is off this medication her operation will go ahead,” he said.

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