A former Port Hardy man is looking to his North Island friends and neighbours to help him get the life-saving surgery he needs, but says he is being denied.
Bruce Melan, who now lives in Langley, B.C., was turned down by BC Healthcare for surgery in Seattle, WA., his sister told the Gazette.
“He was advised that there are doctors in BC that can do his surgery, but no doctors in Vancouver will take his case,” Lennie Trapp said. Melan, said his worried sister, has a deadly infection and needs immediate surgery.
“We are afraid he will not survive on IV antibiotics for the long term,” she said.
“He has already suffered from renal failure and is now being treated with antibiotics that are flushed through his liver — he is running out of options and hope.”
Melan is a 50-year-old former commercial fisherman who broke his tailbone in 2000. He ballooned to 550-lbs, but has since lost much of that weight, said his sister, who added despite the weight loss her brother is still morbidly obese.
Now, he’s contracted a deadly infection, an umbilical hernia and large pannus — a flap of skin and flesh that forms an abdominal apron that hangs below Melan’s knees — that continues to breed the infections.
“He was put forward to BC Healthcare for bariatric surgery for morbid obesity in Seattle, Wash., but the doctors said the bariatric surgery isn’t what’s required now, he requires immediate surgery to remove the pannus and repair the umbilical hernia that contains the infection,” said Trapp.
“The doctors that he consulted in Seattle, in conjunction with his doctors in Langley and Surrey, agree that this is the course of action that needs to be addressed.”
Trapp said when her brother’s Langley doctor attempted to get Melan transferred to Vancouver General Hospital, no doctors there would take a consultation with him.
Stephen May, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, said they are sympathetic to Melan’s plight.
“We recognize the stress they’re going through and the challenges this case presents,” he said.
We want folks to know MSP (medical services plan) is working with Mr. Melan’s specialist and physician on this case.”
May said panniculectomies — the surgery to remove part of the abdominal apron — and hernia operations are procedures regularly performed in B.C. and are not subject for out-of-country procedures.
“It’s up to the patient’s doctor and surgeon to set the urgency in timing for any surgery.”
May added a Fraser Health medical director will contact Melan to determine the best course of action.
“And that’s where we are at this point,” May said Monday.