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Reaching an Age Milestone Thanks to RIH – Grateful Patient Rose Stapleton

Reaching the age of 80 is a milestone that is celebrated, and Rose Stapleton was able to do just that on October 24, 2019. Happy Birthday!

Rose lived to see this remarkable day, thanks to the medical teams at the Cariboo Memorial Hospital in Williams Lake, Royal Inland Hospital (RIH) in Kamloops, and the paramedics and ambulance attendants. She is grateful to be alive and for the professional and heartfelt care that she received by so many compassionate people during her healthcare journey.

Her story began in early 2019, when it was thought that she had a rare cancer of the thyroid – Hurthle Cell Cancer. Rose had suffered from numerous strokes over the past decade and had lost her vision as a result. In addition, her husband had passed away in 2008, and she was struggling not only with physical health issues but also with the emotional pain of losing her beloved husband. The decision was made to remove the right side of her thyroid, and although the initial surgery went well, Rose continued to bleed - perhaps as a result of having been on blood thinners for years. She was taken back into surgery and subsequently developed a very large hematoma in her throat.

With difficulty because of the swelling, Rose was intubated, and then put in a medically induced coma. It was the day before Valentine’s Day and Rose’s outlook was not very good. She was flown by air ambulance to Royal Inland Hospital and her daughter, Laurie Stapleton, explained how she felt seeing her mother being airlifted, “I thought that this could not be the way that it was going to end with my mom. There were tubes going out of her everywhere and I thought ‘I don’t want my mom to end her life in this state!”.  Despite the difficult time, Laurie was very impressed with the paramedics, how knowledgeable and efficient they were, and how they made good on their promise to call her when they landed in Kamloops.

Rose went directly to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at RIH and remained in a coma for 3 days. When she awoke, she had no idea where she was or how she had gotten there. However, the medical staff was incredible and spent time reassuring her, talking with her, and ensuring that when Laurie called from Williams Lake someone was always available to take the phone to Rose. “I was impressed with the compassion that the staff showed to me; they treated me like family, and went out of their way, getting me essentials and everything I needed!” said Rose.

Rose was moved to the 7th floor and spend three weeks recovering. Initially she was fed intravenously, but gradually moved to soft food. She required several blood transfusions due to internal bleeding, but the whole time was kept as comfortable and motivated as possible. When she was released from hospital, she traveled by ground ambulance to Clinton and then to Williams Lake. After a night in the hospital in Williams Lake for monitoring, she was able to return home.

“I am very thankful of the staff that took care of my mom, both at Cariboo Memorial and at Royal Inland, “ Laurie praised. “Dr. Arduini was amazing and everyone was just so kind. I cannot thank the team enough.”

As it turned out, Rose did not have thyroid cancer, but she does have a heart murmur and Heyde’s syndrome (gastrointestinal bleeding from a small vascular malformation of the gut). She has had more blood transfusions and goes for blood tests every 3 weeks. However, given everything that she has gone through, today Rose looks great and is doing amazingly well. She is thankful to those who gave the blood that saved her, “People who are blood donors do not always realize the significant gift, the gift of life, that they give,” Rose explained. Because of her mom’s experience, Laurie encourages everyone to give blood and to donate organs.