Sandi-Lee Field with her daily dose of medication. PHOTO/ALEYNA MARTINEZ

Mum campaigning for stoma bag surgery

ALEYNA MARTINEZ
aleyna.martinez@age.co.nz

A young Carterton mother of two has put her life on hold to campaign for her own survival.

Last week, the Accident Compensation Corporation declined Sandi-Lee Field’s application to pay for stoma bag surgery, which she said would remedy her loss of bowel function, after a medical misadventure.

At the time, ACC had found her bowel issues to be unrelated to the injury they had agreed to cover.

However, on Friday afternoon, ACC agreed to fund surgery for a Chait tube, which was recommended by her specialist.

But Field says a Chait tube would need to be replaced through surgery every year for the rest of her life.

With that understanding, Field has re-requested funding for stoma bag surgery instead, but ACC said they could not approve that until it was recommended by her specialist.

She said a Chait tube surgery costs $12,000 and a stoma bag surgery costs $30,000.

Field’s ordeal began when she was given an antibiotic injection at Carterton Medical Centre in August last year.

She went into the practice with an infection in her right ovary and left with a spinal cord injury after the needle hit her sciatic nerve.

On Monday, the Wairarapa District Health Board told Field she had an appointment in four weeks to be assessed in the public system.

Whether surgery follows, and what that surgery might be, was a clinical decision that would be determined by the consultants at the time of the assessment, a hospital spokesperson said.

On Tuesday, Field said her condition was declining and she had started losing feeling in her left arm.

Having developed complex regional pain syndrome and only able to pass a stool once a fortnight, she was unsure how much longer she could “hang in there”.

ACC chief operating officer Mike Tully said: “Sandi-Lee’s treating surgeon has recommended and submitted a request for a Chait tube, and we have agreed to pay for this so the surgery scheduled for this week could go ahead.

“This includes paying for annual follow-up care for as long as it is needed.”

Field is set to see her specialist today to have the stoma bag recommendation made.

She said her specialist originally recommended the Chait tube because she was young and could still wear a bikini with it. But that is far from her concern.

“I am scared of surgery, but I am willing to do it once for my kids,” she said.

“If he had told me that it [the Chait tube] would require surgery once a year for the rest of my life, I never would have agreed to that option,” Field said.

The cost per specialist visit is $550, she said.

Field said if she got stoma bag surgery through the public system, any money raised from her Givealittle page would go towards lawyers because she wanted to make a change to the system.

“It’s heartbreaking seeing the amount of people online commenting about how ACC’s done the same thing to them and I’m not willing to accept the Chait tube surgery and then [in a year’s time] this will have all been for nothing.”

Now, for her parents Scott and Rachel Fenwick, saving Sandi-Lee’s life is paramount.

Her father was worried that she might die.

“We can’t just sit on our hands and do nothing,” he said.

His wife, Rachel Fenwick is not Sandi-Lee’s birth mother, but she advocates with the same fierceness any mother would.

“We’re about to hit the road to start campaigning again because we’re not going to let this be pushed aside.”



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