Hay River woman has double lung transplant

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Dawn Loutit underwent double lung transplant surgery in Edmonton on Feb. 21. Photo courtesy of Dawn Loutit
Dawn Loutit underwent double lung transplant surgery in Edmonton on Feb. 21.
Photo courtesy of Dawn Loutit

A Hay River woman has undergone transplant surgery for two lungs.

Dawn Loutit had the surgery in Edmonton, beginning at about midnight on Feb. 21.

Loutit, who is in her mid-50s, required a double lung transplant because she has been suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease since the mid-1990s.

In a tearful post on Facebook on the evening she was told she was about to go to surgery at the University of Alberta Hospital, Loutit said, “These are happy, nervous tears.”

Loutit noted the donor was a person from British Columbia.

She looked into the camera and crossed her fingers as she concluded the brief message, and said, “Lots of luck for me and prayers.”

Members of her family have been providing Facebook updates since the surgery.

In an update on Feb. 26, her daughter Rosa Shirley Marie said the surgery went well, and her mother had the tubes from the surgery removed the previous night.

“She is talking & breathing well on her own!!!!” Marie wrote.

She added that everything seems to be going smoothly.
“I cannot wait ’til she gets to see all of the love & support that was given to her during this incredible moment in all of our lives!!” Marie added.

Loutit’s transplant surgery was mentioned in the Legislative Assembly on Feb. 28 by Hay River North MLA R.J. Simpson.

“She had been waiting for this for about 10 years,” said Simpson. “By all accounts, things went well, and she is recovering. I wish her all the best, as I am sure all of the members do. I also want to thank the donor for the gift of life, essentially, that they gave her.”

The MLA noted some questions have been raised in Hay River about organ donation, and he asked Health and Social Services Minister Glen Abernethy about the current process to become an organ donor in the NWT.

“Residents of the Northwest Territories, they can donate their organs and tissues as long as they are in a hospital with access to transplant services at the time of death,” Abernethy explained.

“Due to clinical capacity, that doesn’t exist in the Northwest Territories, so all organs and tissues that want to be donated by NWT residents has to be done in a different location. Often for us, that is Alberta.”

The minister added it is hoped that NWT residents will be able to be placed on the Alberta Organ and Tissue Donation Registry by the coming summer.

In an interview with The Hub in February 2018, Loutit said waiting for a donor was very hard.

“Because there are a lot of days where I have to sit and I can’t breathe,” she said. “I get scared. I cry. I pray. I don’t want somebody to die just for me to get a lung.

“It’s hard to pray and ask because someone does have to pass away. There has to be a donor out there. It makes it hard.”

At that time, Loutit was asking her family and friends to spread the word about the importance of signing donor cards.

“You never know whose life you’re going to save,” she said. “It could be your family, your friend. You never know.”

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