Sunday, April 03, 2011

Transplant candidate can only wait it out

Waterville, Nova Scotia woman has been in Toronto for nearly a year hoping for new set of lungs

By GORDON DELANEY, Valley Bureau The

It has been 10 months since Crystal Taylor-Beals moved to Toronto for a double lung transplant.

But the 47-year-old Waterville, Kings County, woman hasn’t lost hope as she waits daily for the donor lungs and surgery that will save her life.

"I’m taking it one day at a time," Taylor-Beals said Wednesday in a telephone interview from her temporary apartment near Toronto General Hospital.

She was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in 2006, the same disease that killed her father.

Taylor-Beals moved to Toronto almost a year ago to await surgery. Doctors told her she had to be nearby when donor lungs became available.

But it has been a long wait and her health has deteriorated. She spent two recent bouts in hospital when she needed help breathing.

Taylor-Beals is back at her apartment now but makes daily trips to the hospital for physiotherapy.

She had one close call for a lung transplant recently when a matching set of lungs became available. But they went to another patient on the waiting list.

"I try not to let this overcome my life," she said. "I just try to live as normal a life as possible, not thinking about the reason I’m here."

Her husband, Tim Beals, is with her and provides full-time care because she is not able to do things on her own.

"I get out of breath just walking from my chair to the bathroom," Taylor-Beals said. "I can’t walk anywhere."

She said she carries a pager and cellphone with her at all times, in the event a set of lungs becomes available and she is called in for the 14-hour surgery.

Taylor-Beals is also on medication, including heavy doses of antibiotics to deal with infections.

Her highlight of the week is going to the weekly taping of George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight on CBC-TV. The two have gotten to know each other and become friends.

"I go every week, and George has been fantastic."

Taylor-Beals, who has two grown children, said it is her family and three-year-old grandson, Braedon, back home in Nova Scotia who keep her hopes alive.

"I have to make it back home. . . . He means everything to me. . . . He’s my world and the reason I’m fighting this."

Taylor-Beals collects a $1,000 monthly pension, and health insurance pays for her apartment in Toronto. But she has struggled to make ends meet with other costs, including food and upkeep on her house in Waterville.

Last year, a fundraising campaign helped, but the money is running out as her stay in Toronto gets extended. A Waterville church held a benefit breakfast recently to help her with the costs.

"It means the world to me when people ask how my mom is doing and still having fundraisers for her," daughter Natasha Beals said Wednesday.

She said she is taking care of her mother’s home. But there will be additional costs in renovating the house so that it can accommodate her mother’s wheelchair when she returns.

"I just want people to understand that my mom means the world to me and I am thankful for all the wishes and I am doing everything I can to bring her home," she said.

Donations can be made to Crystal Taylor-Beals at the Cambridge branch of the Valley Credit Union Ltd. Its phone number is 902-538-3905.

A Facebook group called Help Support Crystal Taylor-Beals Get a Double Lung Transplant has also been set up. It has more than 300 members.

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