'I still got 3.5 extra years that I wouldn’t have had': N.B. woman prepares for second double-lung transplant
HALIFAX -- A New Brunswick woman is preparing for her second double-lung transplant after catching a common cold last year.
Jade Tripp was born with cystic fibrosis, a fatal disease that causes a buildup of mucus, affecting the lungs and digestive system. She moved to Toronto in 2015 to wait for donor lungs to become available.
After nine months, she got the call.
While the transplant came with complications, including multiple strokes, she recovered and was able to move back to New Brunswick in the fall of 2016.
“It’s the first time I’d ever had lungs feel like that,” she said in an interview with CTV News. “It just felt like I could breathe so deep. It was indescribable.”
She felt healthy until the summer of 2019 when she says she caught a cold.
“I ended up in the hospital, but within about a month’s time, I lost about half of my lung function,” she said. “It was to the point I was terrified to move because I couldn’t breathe…they diagnosed me with a rapid form of rejection.”
She’s now preparing to go back to Toronto for a second transplant. Her journey has sparked her to speak up, about ways people can help those around them, stay healthy.
“I caught a cold, and now I’m in rejection, so it is a very serious matter,” she said. “Even if you’re not sick all the time enough to need a vaccination or a flu shot, there’s people around you that really rely on you having one.”
But she says the N.B. government has made her future move to Toronto, a little easier.
New Brunswick’s Health Minister has signed off on a rent subsidy for patients who have to leave the province for long-term medical procedures, like transplants.
The province was paying $1,500 a month for rent – now it will pay $2,500.
Barbara Walls of the N.B. Lung Association has been advocating for this change.
She says patients have to live within an hour or two from the Toronto General Hospital, as they wait for the call. They have to have a support person with them at all times, and rent can be over $2,500 a month.
“You have families who are trying to maintain mortgages, or they’re dipping into their retirement funds, or their savings,” Walls said. “It’s like a flume, a chimney. Everything that they have is going to go up to make this possible.”
Tripp heads to Toronto for her second double-lung assessment on Jan. 20.
But she’s taking a positive outlook with her.
“Without my donor, without the doctors in Toronto, the surgeons, all of them, I wouldn’t be alive today,” she said. “Although I am going in for a second transplant now, I still got three and a half extra years that I wouldn’t have had. So, it’s hard not to be thankful for that.”