Wittstruck family. (KSCJ photo)

A Facebook post led to a Florida woman being flown to Sioux City for potentially lifesaving surgery that had been canceled due to the Covid surge in Florida.

Jac E. Chace has colon cancer. Surgery to remove part of her colon had been scheduled at a hospital in Panama City, Florida, last Monday, but Grant Wittstruck, Chace’s son, says the hospital is now just dealing with Covid and trauma patients.

“My mother has Stage 3, possible Stage 4 colon cancer and needed to have a large section of her colon removed and, you know, it’s a lifesaving surgery,” he says. “They deem as elective and they couldn’t do it in Florida.”

Wittstruck says out of frustration, he wrote about the situation on Facebook. One of his former Morningside College classmates saw it. Jenna Rehnstrom-Liberto works at MercyOne in Sioux City and connected Wittstruck with the Sioux City hospital’s chief medical officer, who specializes in that very type of surgery.

“Out of the kindness of her heart, she sent me a private message,” Wittstruck says. “She sent me a private message and she did not have to do that. She could have just kept scrolling on our feed and she took the time to ask us to come here and it could possibly end up saving my mom’s life.”

Chace flew to Sioux City Wednesday and her surgery was last Friday. Her son says if more people were vaccinated, the trip wouldn’t have been necessary.

“It’s time to get vaccinated,” he says. “…There’s no reason not to get vaccinated, but if you do get Covid after you’ve been vaccinated, the symptoms are significantly less, you’re not necessarily ending up in the ICU.”

Wittstruck is a 2008 graduate of Morningside College in Sioux City and Jenna Rehnstrom-Liberto — MercyOne’s communications director and the one who acted on Wittstruck’s post — graduated in 2006. Whittstruck’s dad is also a Morningside graduate and his mom, the cancer patient, posted a brief statement on Morningside’s Facebook page, thanking “all the people and prayers” that made her surgery possible.

(By Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City)