George's Story

We knew it would be hard even if it meant selling our home.  If we did not have our home or other finances we probably wouldn’t have been able to go through with the transplant. Having a place to stay made all the difference in the world.  It was such a relief knowing people cared and we wouldn’t have to lose everything.

What type of lung disease did you live with before your transplant?

I lived with COPD and Emphysema, but wasn’t officially diagnosed in 2008.  My condition was industry 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.  My lung transplant became a reality on December 29th, 2018.  What a day!  We are very, very grateful to our donor family.

Were you aware when time came for your transplant that you would need to spend at least three months in Vancouver for post-transplant recovery?

Yes, we were.  We knew it would be hard even if it meant selling our home.  If we did not have 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 you’re on the transplant list you can get ‘the call’ anytime.  How did you arrange accommodation in Vancouver while waiting?

We were looking at renting a place for $2,000-$3,000/month.  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 have to lose everything.

Can you speak to the hardships you faced being displaced from your own home?

It was difficult to find someone to help us watch our home and check on our mail. It was also very hard to part with our pets.  Luckily, our friends and neighbours stepped up once we got the call.  It was pins and needles until then. 

This question is for your wife.  Barb, can you tell us what it was like to have gone through this experience from a caregiver’s point of view?

It was quite traumatic not knowing when we would get the call, whether George would survive the wait for his transplant and, whether he would survive in general.  We were fortunate to have the support of so many people: family, friends, the transplant team, transplant patients we knew, the lung support team and the lung support group we attended at VGH.  We found the lung support group meetings very beneficial. 

Are you willing to share how much it cost to stay in Vancouver after your transplant? 

It cost us close to $35,000.00 over the first year and the year pre-transplant.   The travel alone from Clearwater to Vancouver for post-transplant appointments was very expensive.

What suggestions do you have for others going through the same thing you and Barb did?

  • Try and have a place close by to stay where you have furnished accommodation.

  • Speak with your social worker about subsidized parking.

  • Have someone to talk with.  (friend, relative, lung patient) 

  • Just believe!

Page Last Updated: 16/07/2020