Today, “Dale” from Kamloops lies in a coma, awaiting a liver
transplant that may never come. Because he doesn’t live in Vancouver,
the only transplant centre in the province, he and his family face
additional obstacles, claims Stephen Farmer, Victoria businessman, liver
transplant recipient, and President of HepCBC Hepatitis C Education and
Prevention Society. Farmer says Dale’s case is typical and illustrates
serious regional inequities in B.C.’s current organ transplant policy.
Getting tested for hepatitis C and treated quickly with one of the
improved new treatments is a patient’s best chance for long-term
survival. Liver transplant is an extremely expensive and painful last
resort, and many on B.C.’s long waiting list die before a liver becomes
available. To make it worse, people living outside Vancouver who need a
liver transplant are at a disadvantage, particularly if they lack family
and friends in the area.
Dale, a 56-year old heavy-equipment operator from Kamloops, was
unknowingly infected with hepatitis C at birth, through a transfusion of
tainted blood. He found out he was infected when he donated blood in
1992. Dale was offered a year-long hepatitis C treatment in 2000 (with
Rebetron) which was terribly hard on his body, and which, unfortunately,
didn’t cure him, either. Dale had to stop working due to his disease in
2005, but was able to collect a small disability pension and received a
‘tainted blood’ settlement from the Canadian Blood Services in 2011.