North

Man dies after stopping hemodialysis to send message to Yukon government

Whitehorse resident Terry Coventry stopped life-saving hemodialysis in Vancouver because he wanted to send a message to the government in Yukon, where the treatment wasn't available for him, said his sister.

Terry Coventry wanted the territorial government to provide the treatment

Terry Coventry with his sister Kelly. Kelly said it's 'disgusting' that the treatment isn't offered in Yukon. (Steve Silva/CBC)

A Whitehorse man who stopped life-saving hemodialysis in Vancouver to send a message to the government of Yukon — where the treatment wasn't available for him — died Friday, his sister said. 

"Terry has always been my hero and my inspiration, and he will continue to be," Kelly Coventry said.

She said her brother Terry Coventry died in his sleep at 4:15 a.m., at Whitehorse General Hospital, four weeks after his last round of hemodialysis. He was 74.

In 2019, he spent several months receiving treatment in Vancouver, which included hemodialysis. The treatment filters wastes and water from a patient's blood.

Terry Coventry said he was eventually told he would have to go to a long-term care facility in B.C., which would cost most of his income, leaving him with about $300 a month.

Not wanting to be away from family and friends, he went home to Whitehorse, knowing the move would be a death sentence.

Coventry, 74, in Whitehorse General Hospital, where he died on Friday morning, four weeks after his last round of hemodialysis. (Steve Silva/CBC)

Last month, surrounded by reporters invited to his hospital room, he said he hoped this situation never happens again, and that Yukon will offer hemodialysis.

Kelly Coventry said she plans to continue to pressure the government, though she's not certain how she will go about it yet; she's focused on funeral arrangements.

She said she's feeling mixed emotions.

"I find great peace in knowing that I was able to accomplish for Terry all of the things that he had wanted to get done," she said. "Knowing that my brother is not going to be there anymore is quite difficult."

Her brother was happy to be around his friends in his final days and was "deeply touched" by the response to his story, she said.

A Yukon man has chosen to come home die rather than have to live in Vancouver where hemodialysis is available. Terry Coventry shared his story - and then Christine Genier spoke with Yukon NDP leader Kate White about the situation. 12:44

"My focus has been all about Terry for the last six months, so I don't really know how well I'm going to respond to not having that, so it's going to be a learning experience for me all over again, I guess," Kelly Coventry said.

She said she expected Terry would live for a few more days. She said he didn't show the signs he was nearing death that she was told to look for.

"Of course, Terry being Terry, defied the odds and said, 'To hell with you, I'm doing it my way,' and never showed any of the signs," she said.

About the Author

Steve Silva

Video journalist

Steve Silva is a video journalist for CBC News based in Whitehorse. He has journalism degrees from Ryerson University and Columbia University. So far, he has filed reports from five provinces and two territories in Canada. He can be reached at: steve.silva@cbc.ca.

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