Man, 70, blames liver transplant denial on age
Doctor says health problems can make surgery risky
A 70-year-old man from Inverness, N.S., says he has been turned down for a liver transplant because of his age.
Lauchie Walker has cirrhosis and says the disease will kill him within a year if he doesn't receive a transplant.
He agrees that there has to be a priority list for liver transplants, but he says given the urgency of his case he deserves some consideration.
Walker says he's an active community volunteer and still has a lot to live for. "Anybody in their 20s or 30s, I mean naturally it would go to them. But I don't think there's an awful lot of people who is in the serious condition that I'm in," he said.
"I haven't been given any chance at all and I don't think it's fair. No, I certainly don't think it's fair that at 70, well maybe at 71, my life is finished. I’m going to die."
Dr. Ian Alwayn, surgical director for the Multi-Organ Transplant Program with the Capital District Health Authority, said he can't comment on specific cases, but there's no policy ruling out organ transplants for people 70 and older.
Alwayn said transplant patients often have other major health problems that make pose surgery risks.
"A liver transplant is a very big operation that you have to have a certain physical shape to be able to tolerate such a large operation," he said.
Alwayn said the more people sign up to become organ donors the more patients will be considered for transplant surgery. He said about 300 people are waiting for organs in Atlantic Canada.
"For livers, hearts and lungs, for instance, there's no alternative. Without an organ those people will die.'
He says one healthy donor can help six people.
Meantime Walker said he's not giving up his quest.
"At age 70, is that it? Do you just forget about living?" he asked.
"It's not easy to forget about living."