Garden Hill woman speaking out in hopes Hospital will acknowledge error

Brittany Hobson
A woman from Garden Hill First Nation in Manitoba is questioning her health care after surgery has left her in and out of the hospital.

Melodie Harper said she went in for a simple procedure in December 2016 and hasn’t been the same since.

“We were Christmas shopping when the pain came and it was a gallbladder attack that I had,” Harper told reporters at a news conference Tuesday in Winnipeg.

Harper was rushed to the hospital where she had emergency surgery to remove her gallbladder.

She said she was sent home – but a few weeks later she began to feel sick again.

Harper said she spent the next three months in and out of the hospital and doctors tried to determine what was wrong.

“I was doing pretty good I thought in April and then I got really sick again in May,” Harper said.

“That’s when I was diagnosed gastroparesis.”

The family said a botched surgery has left Harper with the incurable disorder.

Gastroparesis disables the stomach’s muscles leaving it unable to send food from the stomach to the intestines.

Harper has a feeding tube connected to her stomach to help her get the nutrients she needs.

Her husband Vernon Harper said it’s been hard.

“I don’t even remember the last time I held my wife. Why? The pain that she has,” he said.

“She’s got a tube sticking out of her belly.”

It’s not clear what causes gastroparesis.

It can be linked to complications from diabetes, which Harper has, or a result of surgery.

In a statement to APTN News, the hospital said it is working with the family.

“Over the course of Ms. Harper’s admission to Grace Hospital our staff were closely involved with her and her family to provide support and assistance,” said the statement.

“Staff at Grace Hospital have, and will continue to do all they can to provide them with the support they need.”

Garden Hill’s chief said Harper’s case is just one of many in the community.

“In many cases people are, starting to come forward on the mistakes these medical professionals made or sometimes the families tell a story that they lost their loved ones when these simple procedures are being done,” said chief Dino Flett.

And the MLA for the area said three others from the community have died after having the same gallbladder procedure.

“We want her home and we want her safe and we would like an apology,” she said.

Harper has been staying at the Grace Hospital since June.

The family said doctors have not been able to come up with a long-term plan.

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