Family friend of Edmonton woman who died of blood clot linked to AstraZeneca vaccine says she was turned away from hospital

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A family friend of an Edmonton woman who died of a rare blood clot condition linked to the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine says she was turned away from a city hospital.

Lisa Stonehouse, 52, died at the University of Alberta Hospital just after 5 a.m. on Monday following complications due to vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT). Stonehouse is Alberta’s second case of VITT and her death is the first related to the condition in the province.

Wilf Lowenberg, a friend, said Stonehouse received the AstraZeneca vaccine on April 21.

“She had the normal symptoms, headaches, that they associate with the vaccine, but it never went away and it steadily progressed to be worse,” he said.

A week later, on April 28, Stonehouse called Health Link and spoke to a nurse who told her it sounded like she had normal symptoms, but to contact a doctor if it doesn’t get better, Lowenberg said. But her symptoms worsened and on April 29 she went to Grey Nuns Hospital.

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He said Stonehouse came out five to 10 minutes later and said she was told she had normal symptoms and was turned away.

In a statement Covenant Health said they offer their condolences to Stonehouse’s family and loved ones.

“Covenant Health, in collaboration with Alberta Health Services, is actively investigating all circumstances surrounding her visit to the emergency department, and have assured the family we are looking into their concerns.”

By April 30, Lowenberg said Stonehouse was “basically bedridden” and she was taken to the Strathcona Hospital in Sherwood Park.

“They immediately admitted her, ran a CT scan on her and found a blood clot, with a brain bleed,” he said.

Stonehouse was then transported to the University of Alberta Hospital but, on the way there, she suffered a seizure.

“By the time she got to the U of A hospital, they did another CT scan, and there was nothing more they could do,” Lowenberg said. “They ran further tests and everything else but it was obvious that Lisa had lost brain function, and there was no coming back from it.”

On Monday, Stonehouse was taken off life support.

Rare condition

Late Tuesday night, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, announced a woman in her 50s had died, and her death was linked to VITT.

“While any death is tragic, it is important to remember that the risks of dying or suffering other severe outcomes from COVID-19 remain far greater than the risk following AstraZeneca vaccine,” Hinshaw said in a statement.

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She said the global frequency of VITT is estimated to be at approximately one case in 100,000 to 250,000 doses. Approximately 255,800 doses of AstraZeneca have been administered to date in Alberta.

“In comparison, Albertans 50 to 59 who are diagnosed with COVID-19 are 350 times more likely to die from that infection than to experience VITT after an AstraZeneca vaccine,” Hinshaw said.

Individuals are also 1,500 times more likely to be hospitalized from COVID-19 than experiencing VITT after receiving AstraZeneca.

Dr. Curtis Johnston, the deputy zone medical director for the Edmonton Zone, said symptoms of blood clots may be persistent with severe headaches, blurred vision, shortness of breath, chest or abdominal pain, swelling, redness or a limb going cold or pale.

If an individual is concerned, Johnston said they should seek medical attention, either through an emergency department or family physician.

“Health-care providers are very aware of these types of side effects, particularly these rare blood clots,” Johnston said.

“It would be front of mind, if anyone presented to the hospital with one of these symptoms and said ‘I recently had a vaccination or I was recently immunized for COVID.’ They would be very aware of what these symptoms are and the potential concern associated with that.”

The symptoms of a blood clot can also be caused by many other things, which is why Johnston said it’s important to seek medical attention. If an individual is concerned about any symptoms, he said to make sure the medical professional is aware exactly of what they’re worried about.

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“They would have the ability to assess and do the proper tests to determine whether or not this is a real risk for you or not,” he said.

‘Dedicated her life’

Stonehouse’s daughter Jordan Stonehouse, 19, is now without both parents. Her father died two years ago.

Without that parental support, Lowenberg wanted to ensure Stonehouse had something to fall back on. He launched a GoFundMe with a goal of $25,000. It has now surpassed $46,000.

“I just wanted to make sure that she had money to pay the bills, keep a roof over her head and food on the table until such time as we could get the estate sorted out,” Lowenberg said. “In dealing with the estate, there’s also a lot of other expenses. So I just wanted to make sure that her future wouldn’t be ruined by this very tragic event.”

Lowenberg said Stonehouse dedicated her life to her daughter and he loved watching her be a mother.

“Her whole plan was to take Jordan around the world, and that’s all honestly why she got the vaccine,” he said. “She said as soon as the restriction ease they were getting on a plane and going somewhere.”

ajunker@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/JunkerAnna

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