Friday, November 04, 2005
A Plea for Help from a Lung Transplant Family
What follows is a message I received from Dr. Susan Abbey followed by a heartfelt plea for help from Brad and Rebecca Skiffington. Dr. Abbey asked me if I had any ideas about getting assistance for them and the best thing I could think of was spreading the message throughout our transplant community by posting it on my network and asking you to forward it to your contacts also. Anything you can do to help will be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Merv.
"Dear Merv. There is a lovely young post-transplant couple who are currently living in a basement apartment. (He is on ODSP and she is in school) who need to move "above ground" (several episodes of aspergillus and now chronic rejection) but are constrained by finances. They have been advocating everywhere without success and I've been trying to help them without much success either!
Do you have any bright ideas? Do you know of anyone in the transplant community who can pull any levers re housing; is a developer or who works for a developer who might have an empty apartment they would rent at less than market rent? Do you know of any media folks who would do a news storey on them? Or church communities that are into helping individuals? Are there any E-mail lists I could encourage them to post to that might yield someone to help?"
Susan Abbey, MD, FRCPC
Head, Psychosocial Services, Multi-Organ Transplant Program, UHN
8EN-212, 200 Elizabeth St
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5G 2C4
Dr. Abbey referred me to you. My name is Rebecca Skiffington and I'm the wife of lung transplant patient Brad Skiffington who was transplanted January 26, 2002. He received a double lung transplant due to Cystic Fibrosis (CF). He was diagnosed with when he was 2 weeks old and received his transplant when he was 27.
Here is a little information on Brad and myself.
We have been trying to move out of our basement apartment in Ajax for a number of months. As Dr. Abbey mentioned Brad's has had a few bouts of aspergillus since moving into this apartment and now is dealing with chronic rejection. His lung function has gone from 79% only 3 months ago to 55% currently. Right now the Transplant Team is working on trying to stabilize his lung function and keep the rejection from progressing any further, mainly by switching his rejection medication.
We moved here from Newfoundland in July, 2001 so that Bradley could be placed on the transplant list. He was listed on September 12, 2001.
When we first moved to Ontario we lived in St. Catharines and stayed there until August of 2004. Since at that time Bradley's health seemed to stabilize I decided to return to school and finish my education. I was accepted into the Paramedic Program at Centennial College in Scarborough and we moved to Ajax. Unfortunately, the cost of living in the GTA is far greater than the cost of living on the Niagara Region, so we were forced to move into a basement apartment. Since August of last year Bradley has had different complications with his lungs that can be largely contributed to living in a basement apartment. Unfortunately, this was a realization that never came into light until we started to see a drastic decline in Bradley's PFT results and the rest you already know.
One of the big issues we are facing now is our current living arrangements. We know that living in a basement apartment is not helping Brad, or his lungs any and we need to move. I have been in contact with the Durham Regional Housing Corp. and we have been put on a waiting list. The waiting list is currently housing individuals who have been wait listed since October of 1997. We were told that we would be looking at a wait of 3-7 years. I have explained the situation, many times, to them but they do not take into consideration medical/health needs. They do offer emergency housing, but only to victims of abuse.
I have also been in touch with our MP, our MPP, Social Services, Durham Newspaper, The Toronto Star, Durham Community Legal Services and written a letter to Premier Dalton McGuinty and P/C John Tory.
To date everyone, who has responded, has said they are unable to help. I have yet to hear back from the offices of either McGuinty or Tory. I have accessed all the resources I know to access. I know someone out there has to be able to help, but have been unable to find the right person. There is always an exception to every rule and I strongly believe that a person's health is one of those exceptions.
Being a transplant patient yourself, you know of the importance in having clean, healthy and adequate housing. Brad, needs to be somewhere that is completely smoke free, warm in the winter, cool in the summer and free of dampness and its associated problems. It also needs to be affordable. Since I am a student and Bradley is only receiving ODSP we have a very limited income. The shelter allowance that Bradley receives is only $672/mth. Anything we pay for rent above this comes from our money allotted for other living expenses i.e. food, bills etc.
This is what we have been trying to deal with over the last few months. We are not looking for hand outs or pity, we just need someone to give us a helping hand. Dr. Abbey thought of you & asked if we would mind her contacting you. Both Bradley & I would greatly appreciate any assistance that you may be able to offer. Even if you have some ideas of people that I can contact that I haven't thought of yet - any ideas & suggestions would be wonderful. We are pretty much willing to try anything at this point.
I have attached a picture of us taken a few months ago which you can use freely, either within your network, or where ever you think it may help. If you need any further information or have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us either by e-mail or phone (905-686-6811). Dr. Abbey also said that she would be willing to help in anyway possible.
Again we would be ever so greatful of any help, ideas or sugestions that you may have. Thank-you so much for your time. Take care, and stay healthy!