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Port aux Basques woman prepares for heart transplant

Gail Green
Gail Green

Gail Green needs a new heart, and to get it she needs to temporarily leave her home on the southwest coast and head to Halifax.

Green has a condition known as dilated cardiomyopathy. According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, it affects the chambers of the heart by weakening their walls.

Green was diagnosed with the condition in 2006.

"I went in in 2006 to have a bladder repair," she said. "And I had a heart attack while I was in recovery."

Green said she woke up in the intensive care unit and doctors started running tests. She saw doctors in St. John's and the diagnosis was made.

So for the last decade Green has been making regular trips to Corner Brook and St. John's to see doctors.

"And I was doing really well," she said. "Taking the medication, following the rules."

But in February 2015, Green said everything fell apart.

"I got really sick and I ended up in the hospital from February till April," she said.

She said she spent more time in a hospital than home in 2015, and was being moved back and forth from the Health Sciences Centre in St. John's and the Queen Elizabeth Health Sciences Centre in Halifax.

She's been home since April, and said things haven't been too bad.

But her checkup in June led her doctor to decide she'll have to be in Halifax to be on the transplant list.

Green said she was told in 2006 the ultimate cure would be a heart transplant. She said she thought she'd be able to do what she needed to do without getting to that point.

"Denial is a lovely place," she said with a laugh.

The move is necessary, Green said, because of where she is.

"There's nobody here that can do anything," she said, referring to Newfoundland.

Green said there's a short window where an organ can be harvested and transplanted, and said it could take two or three days to get from Port aux Basques to Halifax depending on weather or other factors.

"That's no good to me," she said. "I have to be within 20 minutes to a half-hour from the QEII."

So Green is preparing to make the temporary move to Nova Scotia with her 14-year-old daughter, 12-year-old son and her mother. She has to be in Halifax at the end of August and remain there until after the surgery.

"However long that takes," she said.

Green said her children aren't thrilled with the move, but they understand why it's necessary.

"We have to do this for me to get better," she said. "They don't know what it's like for me not to be sick."

She said her mother is coming along to help look after the children.
"And I've reached the point where I can't be left alone," Green said. "I have to have somebody close just in case."

"Just in case" is the way Green has been living her life for the last few years. She has a device implanted in her body that's a combination pacemaker and defibrillator, as well as a monitor in her home that scans her every 24 hours and if something shows up she receives a call from the hospital.

To help pay for the move, Green set up a GoFundMe page with a goal of $5,000. She said she got the idea after a conversation with one of the doctors she's been seeing.

After just two days, Green had raised more than $900.

Green's sister has the same condition and received a transplant last August, giving Green some insight into what's coming.

"But the closer it gets the scarier it gets," she said.

Green said she'd never given much thought to organ donation, although she has checked the box on various forms before to allow her own organs to be used to help someone.

"I never thought that I would be on the other end," she said.

Gail Green's GoFundMe pagehttps://www.gofundme.com/2gmxxfq4

Green has a condition known as dilated cardiomyopathy. According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, it affects the chambers of the heart by weakening their walls.

Green was diagnosed with the condition in 2006.

"I went in in 2006 to have a bladder repair," she said. "And I had a heart attack while I was in recovery."

Green said she woke up in the intensive care unit and doctors started running tests. She saw doctors in St. John's and the diagnosis was made.

So for the last decade Green has been making regular trips to Corner Brook and St. John's to see doctors.

"And I was doing really well," she said. "Taking the medication, following the rules."

But in February 2015, Green said everything fell apart.

"I got really sick and I ended up in the hospital from February till April," she said.

She said she spent more time in a hospital than home in 2015, and was being moved back and forth from the Health Sciences Centre in St. John's and the Queen Elizabeth Health Sciences Centre in Halifax.

She's been home since April, and said things haven't been too bad.

But her checkup in June led her doctor to decide she'll have to be in Halifax to be on the transplant list.

Green said she was told in 2006 the ultimate cure would be a heart transplant. She said she thought she'd be able to do what she needed to do without getting to that point.

"Denial is a lovely place," she said with a laugh.

The move is necessary, Green said, because of where she is.

"There's nobody here that can do anything," she said, referring to Newfoundland.

Green said there's a short window where an organ can be harvested and transplanted, and said it could take two or three days to get from Port aux Basques to Halifax depending on weather or other factors.

"That's no good to me," she said. "I have to be within 20 minutes to a half-hour from the QEII."

So Green is preparing to make the temporary move to Nova Scotia with her 14-year-old daughter, 12-year-old son and her mother. She has to be in Halifax at the end of August and remain there until after the surgery.

"However long that takes," she said.

Green said her children aren't thrilled with the move, but they understand why it's necessary.

"We have to do this for me to get better," she said. "They don't know what it's like for me not to be sick."

She said her mother is coming along to help look after the children.
"And I've reached the point where I can't be left alone," Green said. "I have to have somebody close just in case."

"Just in case" is the way Green has been living her life for the last few years. She has a device implanted in her body that's a combination pacemaker and defibrillator, as well as a monitor in her home that scans her every 24 hours and if something shows up she receives a call from the hospital.

To help pay for the move, Green set up a GoFundMe page with a goal of $5,000. She said she got the idea after a conversation with one of the doctors she's been seeing.

After just two days, Green had raised more than $900.

Green's sister has the same condition and received a transplant last August, giving Green some insight into what's coming.

"But the closer it gets the scarier it gets," she said.

Green said she'd never given much thought to organ donation, although she has checked the box on various forms before to allow her own organs to be used to help someone.

"I never thought that I would be on the other end," she said.

Gail Green's GoFundMe pagehttps://www.gofundme.com/2gmxxfq4

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