KITCHNER — It all started with an ear infection.
Then there was another.
No matter what his parents did, Hunter Hoshoian, now two, kept getting infections. After a visit to his family doctor, his parents learned that he would likely need surgically inserted tubes to deal with the persistent buildup of fluid behind his ears.
The family waited seven months to see Dr. Jose Prudencio, an ear, nose and throat specialist in Kitchener. During that time, Hunter had taken antibiotics 10 times to treat recurring ear infections and had his eardrum burst twice.
“Poor little guy doesn’t take antibiotics very well because he’s only two years old,” said his father, Darin. “He walks around, he vomits on himself, he trips and falls into walls. We know that two-year-olds can be like that, but it’s excessive. It is because of his ears that his balance is disturbed.
Fluid buildup in children’s ears can lead to dizziness and a severe spinning sensation. It can also lead to hearing loss and affect speech development – all three symptoms impact Hunter.
After meeting with the specialist last week, it was confirmed that Hunter would need ear tubes, which provide ventilation to the middle ear and prevent fluid buildup.
The surgery usually takes 10 to 15 minutes. He was given an operation date for this week after a cancellation, and the family was eager to finally move on from this chapter.
But just days after securing their scheduled date, the family received a second call. Due to a staff shortage at Grand River Hospital, the operation was cancelled. They were not given a new date and were told it would be reviewed in August.
As of Tuesday, Grand River had more than 120 employees with COVID-19, which impacted its ability to move forward with some scheduled surgeries. “This has led to the temporary and unplanned closure of an operating room and has impacted our ability to perform some elective surgeries,” spokeswoman Cheryl Evans said. “When this happens, we prioritize urgent and emergent cases – including cancer cases – and work to ensure that we have the staff we need, who are properly trained to support the surgery and to monitor and help the patient recover after their operation as well. .”
Evans said she would encourage the family to contact their surgeon to arrange their next surgery date, as the hospital plans to resume in August and even more so in September.
The family asked their specialist’s office for clarification on when their son can expect to have his surgery, but said they had not received a definitive answer.
Now the family plans to get their passports, leave the country and pay for the operation in the United States, where the typical cost without an insurance plan is between $2,000 and $3,000.
“I’m coming, there are shortages, but what I can’t get over is I have a little boy who’s been walking around in pain, and has been for almost half his life, and it’s not essential,” her father said. “It’s just frustrating and really speaks to the sad situation we find ourselves in.”
Hunter is currently back on antibiotics after developing another ear infection. It usually has a window of about two weeks after completing a cycle before the fluid buildup returns.
His parents fear he will develop antibiotic resistance if he stays on this cycle too long, which would mean he could not use the drugs in the future to fight off other bacterial infections.
“At this point, I would do just about anything for him,” Hunter’s father said. “Half his life has been painful – either he doesn’t feel well from infections or he doesn’t feel well from antibiotics. It’s been hard on him, and all he needs is minor surgery.