Nfld. & Labrador

For kidney donor and her husband, military help with shovelling is literally life-saving

For Carolann Harris and her husband Chris, recovering from a kidney transplant means they couldn't shovel their driveway after the blizzard. Thanks to the military, Harris says ambulances can now reach her and her partner.

Chris Harris received a kidney from wife Carolann, but recovery left them unable to clear their driveway

These are the six soldiers who shovelled Chris and Carolann Harris's driveway on Tuesday. (Submitted by Carolann Harris)

When Friday's blizzard hit St. John's Carolann Harris and her husband Chris knew they were in trouble.

She donated a kidney to him Dec. 5, and the two of them were still not cleared for strenuous activity following the operation. With the two of them unable to shovel, the blizzard put him at the mercy of complications from the transplant.

"We weren't 100 per cent sure if we were even going to be able to get an ambulance close enough to the house," she said. "We had no idea that it was going to get this bad.… We have a 14-year-old who did the best he could but it was just way too much."

The couple asked the city for help Monday night and were relieved to wake up to find six soldiers clearing snow from much of their property.

"When we looked out, there was a team of Canadian force members shovelling our driveway," said Carolann Harris.

"My daughter had made some cupcakes. We brought them out and got a couple of pictures of [the soldiers]."

Carolann Harris donated a kidney to her husband, Chris, in December. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

Harris said the soldiers began shovelling her driveway at 8 a.m., and shoveled everything in an hour and 45 minutes.

"They had a system going, and they got it out in no time."

'Thank you'

The members of the Canadian Armed Forces shovelled out the property in less than two hours, says Carolann Harris. (Submitted by Carolann Harris)

Harris said the help from those soldiers is letting her sleep better at night.

"I can go to bed tonight knowing that if something happens to my husband, an ambulance can get close enough to my house to get him out. He's six-foot-five and to carry him through any amount of snow, it's just not doable," she said.

Her message to the troops clearing the streets of St. John's?

"Thank you. There's just no words. It seems so minuscule … but there's no words to even say. It's not as high risk as it was when we woke up this morning."

More than 400 soldiers are helping with cleanup efforts as St. John's digs out from the blizzard and remains in a state of emergency.

Joan Vey is another resident of St. John's who appreciates the help.

"I think it's wonderful. There's nothing like the military men," she said.

Joan Vey says she appreciated the military's help in clearing her driveway. (Chris O'Neill-Yates/CBC)

Soldiers helped shovel her driveway and dig out her vehicle after the blizzard shook her and her husband's home.

"I think it was excellent indeed. Oh my god, I'd keep them any time. It's wonderful that they could come and do it for us. Especially for seniors."

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Noah Laybolt is a freelance journalist in St. John's.