Turfed out of surgery
By ZOE SATHERLEY
"PLEASE do this operation for me ... please," Ballina mother Leanne Francis yesterday begged Lismore Base Hospital staff when they said her hysterectomy was can- celled because there were no beds.
She was lying on a bed, ready to go into the operating theatre, in a surgical gown and fully 'prepped' for surgery.
"I just sobbed and sobbed when they told me it was off. I couldn't believe this was happening to me," she said.
Leanne, 31, was booked in to have a hysterectomy, the surgical removal of the uterus, to combat a serious and painful condition called endometriosis.
She had gone through the emotional trauma of coming to terms with never being able to have another child and had prepared herself mentally for the operation.
"It is a huge thing in a young woman's life to know you will never be able to carry another child," she said.
"I had difficulty coming to terms with it, and even walking into the hospital and seeing a mum with a newborn set me crying again."
But it wasn't only the stress and emotional strain of having surgery cancelled that upset Leanne.
Her husband, Shayne, a glazier, had taken a week off work to support her, and his mother had taken a week off to come and support the family, Kiera-Lee, 12, Hannah, 10, Brynee, 7 and Koby, 11 months, through the difficult time.
Leanne had cooked meals for the whole week and prepared special food for the baby.
She said she had called the hospital the night before surgery and again early yesterday morning to confirm a bed was available.
She was admitted to hospital having fasted and having taken a mega dose of preventative antibiotics, had been subjected to an enema and been shaved.
As she was being prepared to have an anaesthetic admin- istered, her husband was sent home and told to come back and collect her at 11.30am when she would be in recovery.
Minutes later came the bad news.
"The nurse unit manager came in and, without any compassion, told me surgery was off because there were no beds," she said.
"I was in shock and kept on begging and pleading for them to find some way to do it.
"I couldn't stop crying. Another nurse came over and held my hand. She was really apologetic and caring, but said this sort of thing happens all the time.
"I can now understand what this health care crisis is all about. I had no idea how bad things were.
"This is a terrible situation and something should be done to fix it.
"There was an old man beside me who had been waiting for about three years for a knee operation and his surgery was cancelled, too. He was pretty distressed as well."
Tara Hannigan, a 21-yearold Lismore woman, was also turned away.
She was in hospital to have her thyroid gland removed.
Tara had to organise two weeks off work from the O'Hair salon at Alstonville where she is a hairdresser.
Her boss, Melissa Anderson, a new mum with a fourmonth-old baby, had to organise child care so she could come to work to cover Tara's shifts.
Tara's mum, Beverley Hannigan, took time off work to support her daughter through her surgery.
And Tara's boyfriend, Eddy Williams, took time off work as a mechanic to be there for his girlfriend.
"We rang the hospital in the morning to check that there was a bed and were told to come in," Tara said.
"It's a pretty big mistake for them to make.
"At first the nurse told me that 16 other people were