Last March, Trina Orth was rushed via air ambulance from her home in Cranbrook to Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) with a failing liver and kidneys. The situation was extremely critical and an emergency liver transplant was imminent. A new liver for transplant was found, but even that luck would not guarantee her safety.
“I was told the level of mortality for her condition was extremely high, that I should be with her while I could, that I should take the time with her and say what needed to be said,” says Ed, Trina’s husband. “The doctors told me she may not survive the night. It was tough to hear that. How does one prepare for something like that?”
But thanks to the work of the doctors and nurses at VGH, Trina did not need the liver transplant and is now recovering in their home. They used a novel form of dialysis in the ICU to remove toxins from Trina’s liver, which miraculously got her liver functioning again. All of this happening as the liver transplant team prepped for the scheduled operation and just hours before the arrival of the new liver.
“She’s doing exceptionally now. It’s amazing, really…her recovery,” says Ed. “From where she was a month ago to where she is now is really a miracle. The VGH staff played a big part in that. They saved her life for sure.”
“She was critically ill when she came in and at very high risk of dying,” says Dr. Gordon Finlayson, Trina’s intensivist. “She was in fulminant liver failure and her kidneys were shutting down. Her recovery was dramatic and the timing was miraculous and her response to treatments initiated in the ICU was remarkable.”
Ed is not only thankful for what VGH has done for his wife, but for his own personal health as well. Last summer, he was diagnosed and treated for Multiple Myeloma, a type of blood cancer. While he is still living with the disease, Ed is optimistic. A lot of that optimism has come from his doctor, Dr. Michael Barnett.
“At this point, there is no cure – all we can do it treat it,” Ed explains. “But talking to Dr. Barnett and the team of oncologists, I remain optimistic – I feel like they’re doing everything they can. I’m doing good. You know, I’m alive, I’m surviving and my quality of life is really quite good. I expect to be around for many more years. Someone has to set a new record for living with this cancer, Why not me.” With the team of caregivers surrounding me I live each day confident that is possible.
Listening to the retired home developer speak, it’s clear he and his wife are very grateful for the care they have both received at VGH.
“The level of care was amazing,” he says. “And when I say ‘care,’ I’m referring more to the level of ‘caring’ by the staff at VGH, each of them truly invested in the healing process and having a positive outcome for each patient they work with. It was so evident during my stay at VGH and even more so as I watched from the sidelines when my wife was there.”
“We’re a family of faith and we certainly rely on the hand of God and miracles from him,” explains Ed. “But I believe the true miracle in all of this is that of her being in the right place at the right time in a facility with the right doctors and nurses having the skills necessary to save her life – therein lies the real miracle, the treatment she received at VGH. As I have had time to reflect on what life might have looked like without my dear wife with me I am most thankful for everyone at VGH, which has allowed us to live the blessed life we enjoy together now.”