WATCH: Two Victoria women who have been through the transplant experience are hoping to help ease the burden for others. April Lawrence explains.
They provide a home away from home for kidney transplant recipients recovering in Vancouver in the weeks after surgery.
Patients can stay for up to eight weeks for free in one of the Kidney Foundation of Canada’s seven suites, but the problem is they are in high demand.
The number of people receiving transplants in B.C. has been climbing recently, jumping 45 per cent over the past five years.
Victoria resident Beth Campbell Duke knows just how hard it is to find a place to stay in Vancouver’s challenging rental market.
She was in charge of finding accommodation when her husband Tony Duke had a double lung transplant in 2016.
“Can you find empty available space on short notice close to the hospital?” she said.
“There is some government assistance for people if they don’t make a lot of money, then there are some people in the middle ground who are going to have trouble finding and being able to pay for their own accommodation in Vancouver but also maintain their household at home,” she said.
Her friend Peggy Mahoney was in liver failure when she went searching for a place in Vancouver prior to her surgery.
“You’re dying at the same time so your ability to do that for very long, you want to constantly scream sick person here, you’ve got to be kidding me,” she said.
So the Dukes and Mahoney have put out an online plea for “accommodation angels” in the Vancouver area.
“People who live relatively close to Vancouver General Hospital and may have an empty space or a spare room, and can help out transplant patients and families,” Duke said.
The unit has to be self-contained with bathroom and kitchen, have no stairs, and be no more than an hour’s drive from VGH.
People can register on the website they started calling Transplant Rogues.
They hope the website will eventually become a support network for Victoria transplant patients.
“We’re so grateful for all the people that helped us along the way and we want to make it easier for other people,” said Mahoney.
“We now know the ropes and there are a lot of other people who have the same passion as we do,” she said.