A family who already had to move away from B.C. to make sure their toddler got crucial healthcare says his health is now being affected by the family doctor shortage in Victoria.
At a 20-week ultrasound, doctors told the parents of Henry Groves that their unborn child’s kidneys weren’t developing properly. Henry, now two years old, was born with chronic kidney disease that quickly turned into end-stage renal failure.
In order to survive Henry now needs hemodialysis, to filter water and waste from his blood, four days a week.
“I think he had almost 12 surgeries by the time he was a year old,” Lisa Jenson, Henry’s mom, told CHEK News from Calgary. “It’s been really tough to see him at his worst.”
Vancouver is the only location in B.C. where hemodialysis is offered, a city too expensive for the family, so they uprooted from B.C. to Alberta, to make sure Henry gets the care he needs.
“It’s been an amazing journey as a father and a parent, but yeah, some of the worst feelings I’ve ever had in my life were related to finding out about the news about Henry and the things he’s had to go through,” said Steven Groves, Henry’s dad.
It soon became clear that the dialysis wasn’t sustainable and that Henry needed a kidney transplant. Steven’s college friend Greg Powell stepped up to donate his kidney to young Henry.
“I thought, well I have two so I could spare one for Henry,” said Powell, who matched Henry’s blood type.
The problem? Powell, who is required to have a family doctor to guide the transplant process, but he can’t find one in Greater Victoria where he lives.
“I’ve called 10 different clinics and sent some requests around and none of them will take me to be a patient right now,” said Powell.
The family says they can only screen two donors at a time, meaning the shortage of family doctors in Victoria is now causing them to wait.
“It’s really disheartening to see how the lack of doctors in Victoria is holding up the process for him,” Steven told CHEK News from Calgary.
For two-year-old Henry, it means more precious time as a toddler tied to a dialysis machine.
“There’s just a failure in the system that there are no doctors available,” said Jenson. “It’s very frustrating to try and navigate the system.”
A hopeful development came as of 4:40 p.m. Tuesday evening. Powell said he found a doctor in Greater Victoria willing to take him on as a patient.
The family has set up a GoFundMe to help pay for the trip out to Calgary for whoever ends up being Henry’s donor.