WANTED: A home for lung transplant patients in Edmonton
Kent MacInnes, a man who pulled himself off a double-lung and heart transplant list to help protect his family’s financial future in Logan Lake, B.C. passed away March 3, 2016. He was 60-years-old.
His legacy and his story will live on with all of us at The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT as we continue to build a home for lung transplant patients in Edmonton so no one can make another hard decison — like Kent’s — ever again.
Here is his story…
LOGAN LAKE, B.C. (Dec. 8, 2015) — Kent MacInnes, a 60-year-old resident who lives in this small picturesque town in British Columbia believes he made the right — yet difficult — choice to help protect his family’s financial future.
Despite living with congestive heart failure and a fatal lung disease known as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, MacInnes has chosen to pull himself off the wait list for a heart and double-lung transplant — a surgery he desperately needs in Edmonton’s University of Alberta hospital.
“If something were to happen after my surgery and I didn’t make it, then I would probably bankrupt my family and leave my wife with nothing,” said MacInnes.
Edmonton is the only city in Western Canada that has the expertise, facilities, and resources to handle these kinds of complicated surgeries, including double-lung transplants.
Medical costs are covered for the surgeries, even for patients like MacInnes who are from outside Alberta. However, travel and living expenses must be paid for by patients and their families — costs that can be financially crippling for anyone who lives outside a 100-km radius outside of Edmonton, especially for MacInnes who lives 865 km away from Alberta’s capital city.
Patients who need lung transplants — along with their caregivers — are required to stay in Edmonton for more than six months before, during and after their surgeries so they can be treated immediately if there are complications, like organ rejections.
Costs for those patients and their caregivers can be a huge financial burden, forcing families to make difficult decisions.
The Lung Association, Alberta & NWT doesn’t want to have any family decide between life and financial security. Our goal is to raise money to eventually build a home for transplant patients like MacInnes where they and their caregivers can have a place to call home during their entire stay in Edmonton.
The facility will also have staff on site where patients — like MacInnes — can get the care and information they need to help them prepare and recover from their surgeries.
“The cost of transportation is crippling in its own right,” said MacInnes. “I would have bankrupted my family.”
MacInnes says if all he needed was a double-lung transplant, having a home — supported by Lung Association donors — for lung transplant patients in Edmonton would have made a difference for his family.
His entire family — including his wife and caregiver, Linda — is supportive of MacInnes’s decision.
“It is frightening to think how little we would have left after having to uproot and move to Edmonton,” said MacInnes who found out he had IPF after a heart attack in 2006.
“We would have to give up everything that we have here in order to be able to afford to live (in Edmonton).”