What lung condition led to your need for a lung transplant?
I lived with COPD (emphysema), but wasn’t officially diagnosed in 2008. My condition was work exposure related. I was at the height of my career when my doctors realized I had an industrial disease and pulled me off the workforce.
When were you placed on the transplant list?
It was around end of May 2018, and my transplant became a reality on December 29th, 2018. What a day!
Did you know you'd spend about three months in Vancouver post-transplant?
Yes. We knew it would be hard even if it meant selling our home. Had we not had our home or other finances, we probably wouldn’t have been able to go through with the transplant. Paying for all the living costs - accommodation, food, gas, parking, etc. - can be a challenge.
Once on 'the list' you can get ‘the call’ anytime. Without knowing when the call would come, how did you plan?
We were looking at renting a place in Vancouver for $2,000-$3,000/month. Fortunately for us, when my sister heard, she offered us a room in her home in New Westminster. Having a place to stay made all the difference in the world. It was such a relief knowing people cared and we wouldn’t lose everything.
Can you speak to some of the hardships you faced ?
It was difficult to find someone to help watch our home and check our mail. It was also very hard to part with our pets. Thankfully, our friends and neighbours stepped up once we got 'the call'. It was pins and needles until then.
Barb, as caregiver, can you tell us what the experience was like for you?
It was traumatic not knowing when we would get 'the call', whether George would survive the wait, and whether he would survive in general. We were very fortunate to have the support of so many people: family, friends, the transplant team, transplant patients we knew and the lung transplant patient support group we attended at VGH. We found the lung support group meetings extremely beneficial.
How much did it cost you both to stay in Vancouver?
The travel alone from Clearwater to Vancouver was very expensive. It cost us close to $35,000 overall, pre and post-transplant.
What advice would you offer lung transplant patients and caregivers awaiting 'the call?'