Saturday, November 27

Parents of vulnerable children fear the impact of Covid-19

The mother of a baby whose operation was canceled 10 minutes in advance because there was no space in the intensive care unit at Hutt Hospital and fears waiting times will run out once Covid arrives.

Medical team in an ICU ward.

Liz McGimpsey urges people to get vaccinated to help protect vulnerable children like her daughter Marigold.
Photo: 123rf

Liz McGimpsey’s daughter Marigold, who just turned one year old, needs surgery to repair her cleft palate.

The family, who have three other children, had been preparing for weeks, trying to keep the bugs at bay and was ready for surgery on October 26.

Marigold and her mother Liz McGimpsey

Marigold and her mother Liz McGimpsey

McGimpsey’s mother had taken a week’s annual vacation and had traveled from New Plymouth to help out.

“Marigold came in, put on a gown, took some medications and we signed some papers and talked to the anesthetist.

“Ten minutes before the scheduled time to go to the operating room, the nurse came in, and had a devastated expression on her face.

“She said, ‘Sorry, emergency surgeries are overdue and the HDU is full. [Marigold has to be in high dependency unit for 24 hours after surgery] and the surgery has to be postponed. “

The couple were told that it would probably be next year before Marigold had surgery.

“They said if it was on this side of Christmas, the surgeon would have to cancel his annual license.”

This was the worst news, he said.

“There is a kind of window for cleft palate surgery because it affects speech and she also has hearing loss, so she needs eyelets and obviously doesn’t eat anything by mouth. Tube feeding takes a lot of our time. and energy.

“We really trust this surgery.

“If something happens and we can’t tube feed her, there is no other way we can introduce food to her, which is a scary thought.”

The McGimpseys are relieved that a couple of days later they received a call from the hospital to tell them that Marigold has a new date for surgery, in just a couple of weeks.

“I am very grateful, but Marigold is not the only child affected by this.

“I am in a tube feeding group and there are many other parents who rely on elective surgery for many reasons.

“There is a real sense of fear in parents who have babies vulnerable to what [Covid] it will mean for your daily care. “

Liz McGimpsey says she understands why some people may feel reluctant to get the Covid vaccine; she used to be skeptical too.

She and her husband Caleb decided not to vaccinate their first baby Freda in 2014, preferring, as they believed at the time, to let her natural immune system develop.

It was a decision they bitterly regretted when the newborn became seriously ill with whooping cough and spent six weeks at Starship Hospital.

That experience also galvanized her extended family, including Liz’s brother Todd Williams (better known as Melbourne-based rapper Louie Knuxx), who spoke publicly in support of getting vaccinated against Covid.

His death in August at age 42, from undiagnosed heart disease, caused excruciating pain, compounded by false claims on social media that it was a fatal reaction to the vaccine.

“Here’s the thing: we know Covid is coming.

“We know that the vaccine is 97 percent effective in keeping people out of the hospital.

“But 90 percent of those vaccinated still leave a large part of the population unvaccinated and our hospitals do not have the capacity for that.

“I understand that people are scared. But so am I, and so do many other parents with vulnerable babies who depend on everyone around them to keep them safe.

“Please, please, please – despite your fears and reservations, think about it.”

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