MIRAMICHI, N.B. – New Brunswick is “decades behind” neighbouring provinces when it comes to supporting transplant patients who have to leave the province for treatment, says the N.B. Lung Association.
Leslie Murray was diagnosed with the terminal lung disease pulminary fibrosis two years ago. He’s been told without a double lung transplant, his lungs will give out in a year or two.
“It’s not a very good feeling, when you’re trying to breath and you’re not getting oxygen in your lungs,” Murray said in an interview with Global News from his home on the Miramichi.
At just 59 years old, Murray sounds like he’s much older. He’s begun the process of trying to get on the transplant list, but his disease has prohibited him from working. He’s been living on social assistance, making just $616/month.
“Even if I had a few more years to spend with my grand kids, I’d be a happy man,” he said.
Once on the list, Murray will have to move to Toronto, living within two hours of the hospital, until donor lungs become available. It’s a financially stressful situation, especially because he lives in New Brunswick.
That’s because while all Atlantic Canadians have to leave their home province to get the procedure, New Brunswick does not provide financial help while the person is waiting for donor lungs.
- Newfoundland and Labrador: Claimable expenses include economy airfare, taxis, purchased registered accommodations and meal allowance. Accommodations are claimable to a maximum of $3,000/month.
- Prince Edward Island: Health PEI will cover travel costs and also provide $1,000/month to assist with accommodation costs.
- Nova Scotia: The policy provides a maximum of $1,000 in travel assistance and $125/night up to $1,500/month in accommodation assistance.
“Generally, Medicare does not cover accommodation expenses during the waiting period for any organ transplant, anywhere in Canada because they are not actively receiving care,” said a spokesperson for New Brunswick’s Department of Health.
It’s something the New Brunswick Lung Association is trying to change.
“We are decades behind of what we provide our residents, certainly in regards to the financial support for them,” said Barbara Walls, Director of Health Promotion at the N.B. Lung Association.
“Basically you’re setting a death sentence for that person. They’re disease is terminal without a lung transplant.”
Murray, who doesn’t own a computer and is not familiar with so-called ‘crowdfunding’, is worried he won’t come up with the money in time.
“I’m not lucky, my days are numbered.”