A teacher by training, a passionate cook and an amazing mom to three active boys, Chelli Morris has always been on the go. Whether it’s volunteering at her kid’s school or spending time with her boys and husband Dan, she is always active. On September 2, 2016, this would all change suddenly and mark the beginning of a 4 year and 3 month battle with debilitating chronic pain.
While driving with her three boys into Kelowna from her home in Nanaimo, Chelli felt an intense, sharp stabbing pain in her back. Not knowing what was wrong, and the level of pain being excruciating, Chelli sought medical attention. She was treated at the Nanaimo General Hospital by nephrologist, Dr. Naomi Glick, although it took months and many tests to secure a diagnosis of Loin Pain Hematuria Syndrome (LPHS). With no known causes or cure, treatment options for LPHS are primarily limited to pain management with opiates. Many sufferers are unable to work, are in constant and unending pain and ultimately suffer from depression.
“Simple things like a sneeze, or hitting a bump in the road could trigger a massive pain spasm out of nowhere” Chelli explained. It changed every moment of every day for me.”
Around the same time in 2016, a team of medical professionals in Saskatchewan, led by nephrologist Dr. Bhanu Prasad and radiologist Dr. Kunal Goyal, were completing a successful first phase of a research project that was testing the benefits of renal denervation. This is the minimally invasive process of introducing a catheter into the blood supply to the kidneys to deliver thermal energy across the blood vessel wall to interrupt the pain signal to the brain. This procedure can be life-changing for those with LPHS. Unfortunately for Chelli, the first phase of the research project had just ended and she had to wait.
It took four years before Drs. Prasad and Goyal and their team were able to get the necessary approvals to start the second phase of the clinical research and, with that in place, receive research funding from granting agencies and Hospitals of Regina Foundation. Chelli finally received the phone call she had been waiting for. She would be part of the study and her procedure would take place on December 4, 2020.
“This procedure was the only hope at that time of relieving my ongoing pain.” Chelli says. “If it was successful, I would no longer need the many medications, or have to worry about how an average, every-day event might trigger an unbearable pain spasm.”
Chelli arrived in Regina and was admitted to the Regina General Hospital where Dr. Goyal and his medical team performed a successful renal denervation. When she awoke after her procedure, she couldn’t help but cry tears of joy. After four long years, there was no more pain. After a few days of recovery she flew home, eager to get back to life without the debilitating, chronic pain of LPHS. She was ready to start living again.
“From the moment I arrived in Regina, Dr. Prasad, Dr. Goyal and the medical team were so full of care and compassion.” Chelli says. “Without the support of Hospitals of Regina Foundation none of this would have been possible. It has been completely life changing for me, and for that I am forever thankful. Thank you just doesn’t seem adequate.”
“Chelli’s story is a fantastic example of the importance of investing in cutting edge medical research, right here in Regina. This procedure is not being tested anywhere else in the world. Doctors Prasad and Goyal may have developed a less invasive, more effective treatment for this terrible disease, saving so many from a life of endless pain and opiate dependence.” says Lisa Green, Senior Vice President, Hospitals of Regina Foundation. “We are committed to investing in innovative local medical research that may lead to better care for our southern Saskatchewan community.”