June 28, 2015 1:49 pm
Updated: June 28, 2015 6:02 pm

N.B. couple worried cancer institute’s lab closure has stalled their results


MONCTON – A New Brunswick couple is worried the closure of the Atlantic Cancer Research Institute’s genetic testing lab has stalled their results.

Jeff Paquette and Kelly Stewart have been waiting since April to get Paquette’s genetic testing results that will determine if he has a particular form of muscular dystrophy. He has been experiencing symptoms similar to the disease since last year.

The couple have documents that say they should receive results in one to two months.

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“Then we found out that their lab was closing and that really freaked us out,” said Paquette. “We called the hospital, asking, ‘We heard this is closing, what’s going to go on?'”

The Institute shut down its genetic testing equipment at noon on June 18 because of the province’s decision to allow the Saint John Regional Hospital to go ahead with opening a genetic sequencing lab of their own.

At the time, Dr. Rodney Ouellette of the ACRI said if there are two centres in the province, N.B. taxpayers will be paying the highest cost per test in the country.

“I’ve said this many, many times and I think that we can get better value if we have one centre so we will bow out,” Ouellette told Global News on June 18.

READ MORE: SJ hospital approved for DNA equipment while cancer centre suspends testing

This is the document Jeff received notifying him his results would take one to two months.

Laura Brown/Global News

“So we started making more calls. We want to know, okay, what’s going to happen with this? We had no idea whether they were just stopping all together or whether this was going to continue on,” he said.

Paquette and Stewart have three children, so their attention has turned to them. They say they need to know the results in order to determine if it has been passed on to their children. Their six-year-old daughter is showing similar symptoms, according to the couple.

Paquette says he did get confirmation from the Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital, where the lab is located, that they would be getting the results but it won’t be until the end of July.

“The scary part is that, this could happen to my kids,” said Paquette. “They can’t really move forward and do anything with [our daughter] until they know what they’re dealing with.

“We want to know. We deserve to know. We need to know for them.”

He hasn’t gotten confirmation if the delay is because of the closure of the lab. The Institute could not be reached for a comment on the weekend.

Stewart, who suffered from cervical cancer last year, said it’s been terrifying to wait for the results.

“I’ll take whatever, whatever diagnosis I get, as long as it’s me,” said Stewart. “I just don’t want anything to happen to my kids and now we’re at that point.”

The two say they’re frustrated with the entire healthcare system and have contacted several MLA’s, including the Premier. At this point, they just want answers.

“You have to wait, and fight. Because if we had done nothing throughout this, nothing would have happened,” she said.

READ MORE: N.B. health minister says ‘no’ to Saint John hospital equipment purchase

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