Two-year-old has surgery cancelled after going on antibiotics 10 times in seven months


KITCHENER — It started with an ear infection.

Then there was another.

Then another.

No matter what his parents did, Hunter Hoshoian, now two, kept getting infections. After a trip to his family doctor, his parents were told he would likely need tubes surgically inserted to deal with the persistent fluid buildup behind his ears.

The family waited seven months to see Dr. Jose Prudencio, an ear, nose and throat specialist in Kitchener. Over the course of that time, Hunter had been on antibiotics 10 different times to deal with recurring ear infections and had his ear drum burst on two separate occasions.

“The poor little guy doesn’t handle antibiotics very well because he’s only two,” said his father, Darin. “He walks around, he’s throwing up on himself, he stumbles and falls into walls. We know that two-year-olds can be like that, but this is excessive. It’s because of his ears that his equilibrium is thrown off.”

Fluid buildup in the ears of children can lead to vertigo and a severe spinning feeling. It can also cause hearing loss and affect speech development — all three symptoms are impacting Hunter.

After meeting with the specialist last week, it was confirmed that Hunter would need ear tubes, which provides ventilation to the middle ear and prevents fluid buildup.

The surgery generally takes 10 to 15 minutes. He was given a surgery date for this week after there was a cancellation, and the family was looking forward to finally moving on from this chapter.

But just days after getting their scheduled date, the family got a second call. Due to staffing shortages at Grand River Hospital, the surgery was cancelled. They were not given a new date and were told it would be looked at again in August.

As of Tuesday, Grand River had more than 120 staff off with COVID-19, impacting its ability to move forward with some scheduled surgeries. “This has led to the unanticipated, temporary closure of one operating room and has impacted our ability to proceed with some elective surgeries,” said spokesperson Cheryl Evans. “When this happens, we prioritize urgent and emergent cases — including cancer cases — and work to ensure that we have staff that we need, that are appropriately trained to support the surgery and to monitor and help the patient to recover following their operation as well.”

Evans said she would encourage the family to reach out to their surgeon to arrange for their next surgery date, as the hospital plans to ramp back up in August and even further in September.

The family has asked their specialist’s office for clarification on when their son can expect to receive his surgery, but said they have not been given any definitive answers.

Now, the family is considering getting their passports, leaving the country, and paying for the surgery in the United States, where the typical cost without an insurance plan is between $2,000 and $3,000.

“I get there are shortages, but what I can’t get over is that I have a little boy who is walking around in pain, and has been for almost half his life, and that isn’t essential,” said his father. “It’s just frustrating, and really speaks to this sad state of affairs we are in.”

Hunter is currently on antibiotics again after developing another ear infection. He usually has about a two-week window after he finishes a cycle before the fluid buildup comes back.

His parents are worried he could build up an antibiotic resistance if he stays on this cycle too long, which would mean he couldn’t use the drugs in the future to fight off other bacterial infections.

“At this point, I would do pretty much anything for him,” said Hunter’s father. “Half his life has been pain — he’s either not feeling well because of the infections or he’s not feeling well because of the antibiotics. It’s been rough on him, and all he needs is a minor surgery.”


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