Covid 19 coronavirus delta outbreak: Barry Soper – Cancellation of life-saving surgery shows the brutal toll of the pandemic

A daily recap of all major developments in the Covid-19 Delta outbreak as New Zealand plunges into lockdown for the fifth time. Video / Mark Mitchell / Brett Phibbs / Michael Craig


Beehive’s “Pulpitis of Truth” has repeatedly told us to be kind. This comes repeatedly from the sermon sheet of the Prime Minister and his fellow preacher, the Director General of Health.

But that’s the old story: it would be nice to see them practice what they preach. In all fairness, neither of them can be on the lookout for everything that is going on, but whether they like it or not, the responsibility ends at their altar.

We know that 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 cannot say a proper farewell where many of us would have liked to celebrate his life.

If you’ve ever wondered what it must have been like to live in a totalitarian state, then you might not be wondering anymore.

It is the inhuman face of this pandemic that could never have been imagined 18 months ago.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield.  Photo / Pool
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield. Photo / Pool

Take the case of Aucklander Chris Hunter who was on hot coals this week – and who wouldn’t be out of place?

He was scheduled to have a kidney transplant today. Everything had been prepared, a donor had been found, her brother Shane – who lives in South Africa – was the only viable of 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 theft and an emergency MIQ for Shane, who performed all further testing in the isolation center.

They were encouraged by the words of Ashley Bloomfield in the pulpit after the lockdown: All hospitals are open to people in need of urgent or acute care and they should be looking for it soon.

Chris’s phone rang at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday and the caller told him his rescue operation had been called off. They couldn’t tell him when he was likely to be rescheduled, there was no plan. Basically there weren’t enough staff to run the theater.

Chris Hunter was scheduled to have a kidney transplant today.  Photo / Supplied
Chris Hunter was scheduled to have a kidney transplant today. Photo / Supplied

Unsurprisingly, this 54-year-old father was devastated. They even offered to take the surgeon, donor and Chris to Christchurch where a transplant unit is located, offering to pay the associated costs.

The irony is that if the donor’s kidney had come from a corpse as a result of a car accident, the operation would have been performed immediately.

The family is full of resources; Chris managed to contact Auckland hospital boss Ailsa Claire, who promised to call him back – a call that was only made the next morning, after being interviewed on the breakfast show. Mike Hosking’s NewstalkZB.

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

The health boss was sure, he was told, that they would postpone the operation as soon as possible.

They don’t have to wait long as Chris’s health deteriorates. If this is not a case for urgent surgery, it is difficult to understand what it is.

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About Kristina McManus

Kristina McManus

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