COVID-19 restrictions force Abilene cancer patient, mother of two out of town for surgery


ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) — As Abilene and the Big Country see the surge of COVID-19 cases force residents into increased restrictions, many are now having to do without elective surgeries that could be more important that you might think.

Christy Yeldell, an Abilene mother of two, says she is now having to find someplace else to go after her elective surgery was pushed back. 

“I don’t want to die,” said Yeldell. “I hurt and I am bleeding constantly, I’m getting anemic, and then I am getting weak, and then I have kids at home that are 5 and 3, and one of them is autistic.”

Yeldell has faced various health issues in her life. 

“Glioblastoma stage 4 brain cancer, they took that, I beat that, then they found cancer in my bones,” said Yeldell. 

Since then, she has faced another major complication that required her to get a hysterectomy. 

Now, Yeldell can’t get the operation she needs due to the lack of ICU beds and COVID-19 restrictions. 

“It makes me angry, honestly, because what if it continues to progress and I’m not going to be able to be there for my 5 year old and my 3 year old?” said Yeldell. 

Dr. Tim Martin says as a physician, it’s heartbreaking to tell his patients they can’t see the specialist they need. 

“This pandemic is affecting people in ways we don’t think about because they are not in the ways that affect us,” said Dr. Martin.  

Which is why Christy says that others need to take COVID-19 precautions more seriously for people like her. 

“There are families out there that are truly trying to live through this and having underlying conditions, and those are the ones that are dying, and we don’t want to be one of those numbers,” said Yeldell. 

And while she was able to get her surgery moved to a hospital in San Angelo, it has presented new challenges. 

“It is a relief, but it’s a financial strain, worrying about getting back and forth,” said Yeldell. 

Causing her to have to ask her family for money. 

“For gas, something that seems simple to everybody else, but it’s not,” said Yeldell. 

And until patients like Christy are able to get the care they need, Dr. Martin says citizens can help by controlling the spread. 

“Now is the time to use our freedom, to make choices that are good for the population as a whole,” said Yeldell.  

Hendrick Health Chief of Staff Stephen Lowry says that elective surgeries are for patients with needs that don’t put their lives under immediate threat.  

“By medical definition, ‘elective’ would include anything from a total joint replacement, a hernia repair, something that at the moment might not be immediately life threatening, to someone with stable coronary artery disease, blockage that needs a bypass surgery, but would require an ICU stay afterwards,” said Lowry.  

So, people who need these types of surgeries will be unable to get them until the COVID-19 hospitalization rate is below 15% for 7 days. 

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