Life-saving surgery stalled by budget cuts

Retired teacher Jo Danielson is living on the edge with an abdominal aneurysm, a dangerous bulge in her aorta, the largest single artery in the body.

But because Danielson, 73, also has heart disease and diabetes, doctors have told her she wouldn't withstand the major abdominal surgery needed to expose the aorta and fix it.

Instead, doctors have recommended for a less invasive, endovascular aneurysm repair, in which a device called a "stent" is inserted into the diseased aorta through a big artery in the groin.

But she will have to wait until April, when the Vancouver Island Health Authority's next budget year begins. The health authority has placed a cost-saving, yearly cap on the stent procedure because of the extra cost.

So Danielson said she does her best to live quietly, keep the stress down and wait. "I've got a time bomb and it's waiting to go off."