OTTAWA -- The gradual return to near normal has people awaiting transplants during the COVID-19 pandemic hopeful that surgeries will resume soon.

Lindsay Forsyth-Brochu of Almonte has a rare and potentially fatal form of pulmonary hypertension.

“I won’t lie, I’m scared - I’m terrified,” says Forsyth-Brochu.

Hearing the diagnosis was difficult.

“I was really emotional - for someone my age, I wasn’t ready. It’s limited my activity, a lot of things in life I’m not able to do right now.”

The 31-year-old woman needs a lung transplant,

“It’s basically a new life, to be honest - that’s how I’ve been told, and I truly believe that. Being able to do all of the things that I’m not able to do now, like climbing the stairs is something really difficult for me, and it’s something so simple.”

She was put on the transplant list in mid-March, expecting the surgery would happen in April,

“And then, COVID happened,” says Forsyth-Brochu as the pandemic put many transplant surgeries on hold in Ontario.

Dr. Atul Humar is the Director of the Transplant Centre at Toronto General Hospital.

“In the last month and a half or so, we’ve quite dramatically decreased our transplant activities. So, we’re currently doing about twenty transplants in the last month, and in a typical month we would do about 60.”

Dr. Humar says they were initially doing only the most urgently required transplants.

“We wanted to preserve capacity for all of the COVID patients, and because of some safety concerns. But what we’ve done now is we’ve slowly started to ramp things back up again.”

Ramping up, to help those on the transplant list.

“I think now is the ideal time - what we’re seeing is a flattening of the number of COVID cases, except in certain high-risk areas such as long term care facilities. I think it’s critical that we not waste any organs, they are a very precious resource.”

And there’s a need for that precious resource, as Dr. Darin Treleaven, Chief Medical Officer of Transplantation for the Trillium Gift of Life Network, explains.

“As of a few weeks ago, we were down in the 50 per cent range. it seems to be gradually increasing again… every single gift counts, we consider every potential offer as an incredible gift of life.”

A gift that Forsyth-Brochu is waiting for.

“I’m very excited that they’re opening up the program; because that means a lot of hope for everyone on that list.”

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