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‘They’re willing to let me die’: Alberta man dead after being denied life-saving heart procedure

Jerry Dunham was told that his doctor was “too busy” to have him despite the fact that there were no other patients around.

An Alberta father of two daughters died after he was denied a potentially life-saving defibrillator for his heart due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Jerry (Ched) Dunham was turned away at his doctor’s office on April 16 while he was there for a scheduled appointment. Dunham was told that his doctor was “too busy” to have him despite the fact that there were no other patients around. 

According to the Calgary Herald, Dunham penned a spirited Facebook post while waiting in the doctor’s office to plead with his doctor for the procedure to go through. 

“I was basically told that the government is willing to risk my life to save my life,” wrote Dunham.

“Let me say that again, my government told me they’re willing to let me die, which according to them is for my own safety . . .”

Two months later, Dunham passed away on June 7 at the Medicine Hat Regional Hospital after suffering a cardiac arrest nearly a week earlier which deprived his brain of oxygen. 

Dunham began to have cardiac issues well over a year before the procedure was scheduled. After being diagnosed with congestive heart failure, he was told that he would be given a defibrillator and put on medication to manage the condition. 

“Heart surgery, apparently considered non-essential. Now I know some say that’s non-essential, but it’s pretty goddam essential to me. Now I’m told today possibly could be a year or two?” wrote Dunham on his personal Facebook.

“So what I’m just supposed to kiss my ass goodbye? I’m starting to freak out here. Wondering what I should do?”

Estimates show that nearly 200,000 “non-essential” surgeries and procedures were cancelled or postponed due to fears of hospitals being overwhelmed due to a predicted intake of coronavirus patients. 

Despite the healthcare capacity fears, hospitals across the country have been operating at a reduced capacity for the pandemic’s duration.

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