Dawn Loutit of Hay River expects to be added in November to a waiting list for a double lung transplant while the question of who pays for her flight is still being worked out.

Dawn Loutit of Hay River will be heading to Edmonton in November and expects to be added to a waiting list for a double lung transplant. photo courtesy of Dawn Loutit

On Oct. 5, Loutit heard from the lung transplant team at University Hospital in Edmonton that she has been scheduled for a preparatory visit from Nov. 6 to Nov. 30.

“They said I’ll be activated during my program, during the four weeks,” she said. “I’ll be activated, which means I’ll be automatically on the list.”

Loutit welcomed the news.

“I’m ecstatic,” she said. “It’s for real. It’s coming into place now and it’s a long time waiting for me getting on the list.”

During the program in November, she will be taught how to take care of herself before and after surgery, and she will also undergo physiotherapy to strengthen her legs and arms. In addition, she will learn about proper eating and exercising.

Despite being closer to the waiting list, Loutit is also a bit apprehensive.

“I’m scared and nervous because the physio part I’m worried I’m not strong enough for, but I’ll still be able to get on the list,” she said. “And it’s just overwhelming that it’s all finally coming into place.”

It appears Loutit will also be able to stay in Hay River while she waits for suitable lungs to become available for transplant, which could take months or longer.

However, the GNWT has not officially notified her that it is prepared to immediately fly her to Edmonton once lungs become available for transplant.

Hay River North MLA R.J. Simpson is sure it can be worked out between the GNWT and Loutit’s doctors in Edmonton to allow her to stay in Hay River.

“My understanding is that it’s OK for her to stay in Hay River, but one side was waiting for a letter from the other side who was waiting to hear from the other side – the territories and the doctors in Edmonton,” said Simpson. “So I’m not sure where they’re at, but things will be worked out. I’m confident that things will be worked out, if they’re not already.”

The MLA described the question of whether Loutit can stay in Hay River, as opposed to relocating to Edmonton to wait for a transplant, as more of a paperwork issue than anything else.

After a transplant operation, Loutit will be required to stay in Edmonton for an extended period of time.

“After surgery, I will be living in Edmonton for a year,” she said. “The doctors want me there for a year. I’ll need care for three months and then they’ll want me down there for the rest of the year just to keep an eye on me and make sure I’m good to go.”

The 53-year-old Loutit requires the double lung transplant because she has been suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease since the mid-1990s.

Ten years ago, her lung capacity was 70 per cent, but that has now decreased to 24 per cent.


Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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