Increase in travel allowance to ‘make a world of difference’ for N.B. lung transplant patients

N.B. increases living allowance for transplant patients leaving N.B.
WATCH: The province has just increased a living allowance for transplant patients that have to leave New Brunswick for the procedure. Megan Yamoah has more.

Jade Tripp has faced an uphill battle with her health, after receiving a lung transplant three years ago.

Now, she says, she’s in need of a new pair.

Tripp says she needed the first transplant because of progressive cystic fibrosis. This time around, it’s because her body has rejected the new lungs.

“Even just simple things, getting up in the morning and walking into the kitchen for breakfast can be enough to drain your energy for the day,” said Tripp.

Due to limitations in the provincial health system, the New Brunswick Lung Association says, patients like Tripp are subject to a week-long assessment in Montreal or Toronto to determine if they can be added to the transplant list.

READ MORE: Lung transplant survivors share experiences, solidarity at Fredericton lunch

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Once Montreal or Toronto has notified patients are added to the list, they must immediately move to that city to await the operation.

For Jade, that’s when costs start adding up.

“Looking at the first time around, we spent over $12,000 out of pocket for rent and for parking at the apartment building we lived at,” said Tripp.

But that has changed. On Dec. 6, 2019, the New Brunswick Department of Health changed its policy on rent assistance reimbursement.

Funding has increased from $1,500 to $2,500 per month to ease the financial burden, matching what residents of Nova Scotia and PEI receive.

“It’s going to make a world of difference for us,” said Tripp

Although Tripp and her partner are still dealing with debts incurred during the first transplant, she says she’s relieved this time around that she won’t have to focus on money and fundraising while in the hospital recovering from surgery.

More than 200 Canadians died while waiting for organ transplants in 2018
More than 200 Canadians died while waiting for organ transplants in 2018

Before the increase, according to New Brunswick Lung Association director Barbara Walls, some patients had to use their pension, sold their homes and used their life savings to make ends meet.

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“All they could do, really, was just keep saying how happy and relieved they were and how appreciative they were,” said Walls.

In the coming weeks, Tripp will again go through out-of-province testing to see if she can be added back to the transplant list.

“Once we get up there we can really focus more on my health and keeping me stable instead of focusing on where the next month’s rent is going to come from,” said Tripp