ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A mother from Grand Rapids has been denied surgery. Doctors told her that they could not move forward with the surgery due to a lack of ventilators, which would be necessary for this specific procedure.
Whitney Fockler, 33, first knew something was wrong because she would soak through sanitary napkins with blood. At one point, she had gone to the emergency room and learned that she had lost half of the blood in her body.
In summer of 2019, Fockler was diagnosed with stromal sarcoma, a type of cancer that starts in the uterus. In Fockler's case, the cancer has now spread to other organs including her liver. Doctors are also concerned it has spread to her bladder, as well as other organs.
"Pain wise, people always ask me, what does it feel like? And I’m like, which part? Because it hurts differently in different areas. Where the mass has spread to my liver, it’s pushing against my diaphragm," said Fockler. "So taking a deep breath is like being punched in the ribs, all day everyday."
Fockler was scheduled for surgery on April 7th. Surgeons planned to perform a full hysterectomy, as well as possibly remove her spleen and appendix.
" I was hopeful. It’s terrifying honestly," said Fockler. "I don’t want it, but I need it. Nobody ever wants to get cut open, but it’s necessary. When my children were born, I promised them everything. I promised them my whole world and so, the first part of that is making sure that I am here to keep it. So I was hopeful because it’s a chance to overcome."
A few days ago though, she received a call from the doctor who would have performed the surgery. He told her they couldn't move forward because they didn't have enough ventilators. With the five hour procedure, one would be necessary for the surgery, scheduled at U of M in Ann Arbor.
"My whole life depends on a few hours on a ventilator," said Fockler, who said her doctors did everything they could to try and secure one.
At this time, Fockler doesn't have a new date set in place for a surgery or a timeline of when that may be possible.
"I would love to get it done as quickly as possible. If I could, tomorrow. To me, it means life. It means more time with my children," said Fockler. "I don't think anybody is ever really ready to go, but I know I have a lot of life left in me. It's just insane to think that a machine will make a huge difference on whether I will get that chance or not."
We reached out to U of M to ask how they are distributing ventilators and who is receiving them. At time of publication, they had not provided any type of statement or feedback regarding our question.
There has been a GoFundMe set up to help Fockler and her family. You can find the link here.