Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

AN APPEAL FOR HELP – Whitehorse resident Dawn Jennings, seen Feb. 10, needs life-saving dialysis three times a week.

We beg you to make dialysis a priority

Born in Edmonton 55 years ago, I have lived in the Yukon for the past 35 years.

By Whitehorse Star on February 17, 2023

Born in Edmonton 55 years ago, I have lived in the Yukon for the past 35 years.

In 2014, the Edmonton Cancer Clinic diagnosed me with metastatic endometrial cancer (stage 3 uterine cancer). I now live with two ostomy bags (urine and colostomy). 

I was told at the start of 2021 that my kidneys were both functioning.

Later in that year, one kidney shut down. I was told that the remaining kidney was functioning well. I was then in contact with the nephrologist team of doctors in Vancouver.

In May 2022, I woke up in the ICU at Whitehorse General Hospital to be told that my only remaining kidney was shutting down.

I had shingles (even though I had two vaccines), a bowel obstruction and a blood infection that went septic, from which I nearly died.

It became urgent that I go to Vancouver for dialysis.

Beginning in June 2022, I started dialysis treatment three times a week.

Since dialysis is not available in the Yukon, my options were to move or learn (to use) the “at home hemodialysis machine”.

I did my best to learn the procedure, but soon became overwhelmed.

I live alone, and having this machine in my home would mean cleaning the machine after each dialysis, ordering supplies, dropping water samples off to be tested, and worrying about power outages and blood clotting.

So much to learn in six weeks; oh, my Lord.

With my life in my hands, all alone and already on disability, the pressure became too much.

And I got COVID, even though I have had three vaccines. I was not able to achieve the at-home dialysis training due to COVID brain fog and stress.

I want to live in the Yukon, where my friends and family are. Being in Whitehorse is important to my mental health.

However, I need life-saving dialysis three times a week.

There is no dialysis available in the Yukon. Dialysis is available in Yellowknife and Hay River, but not in Whitehorse.

Many Yukoners are in need of dialysis. The choices they have at this time are to move, to die, or be in Vancouver, with the medical services program paying.

I am begging, for me and every Yukoner in need of dialysis now and in the future, that our politicians make this issue a number one priority: a matter of life and death.

Dawn Jennings

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