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Princeton woman in need of transplant brings health care disparities to Victoria

Premier, MLA, meet with Chris Unrau
Chris Unrau was surrounded by political support when she travelled to Victoria to press the case for transplant patients. Premier David Eby and local MLA Roly Russell were there to back her up. (Contributed)

A Princeton woman, desperate for a double-lung transplant, is forging change in the province despite her frail health.

Chris Unrau made headlines last month, when she contacted media and was rewarded when a Penticton benefactor came forward and promised to pay all her associated medical bills following transplant surgery, when it becomes available.

But she is not stopping there.

Unrau and her husband, along with Paul Adams of the BC Rural Health Network (BCRHN) and local MLA Roly Russell, travelled to Victoria earlier this month to explain how residents outside of Vancouver are discriminated against, when it comes to organ transplants.

They were greeted and acknowledged in the legislature, and had a meeting with Premier David Eby.

“We got 100 per cent support from every MLA,” she told Black Press in an interview.

There are approximately 150 organ transplants in the province annually. However, patients travelling from outside the Lower Mainland must find their own housing and fund their travel and living expenses for a minimum of six months.

Initially, Unrau withdrew her request to be put on a transplant list, because she could not afford the $20,000 minimum down-payment required to ensure she could stay in Vancouver post-surgery.

“Christina has done her piece in bringing this issue to light,” said Paul Adams, chair of the BCRHN.

Unrau felt overwhelmed, but held her ground.

Her meeting with Eby was comfortable.

“He was really welcoming and really interested, and he was shocked by some of things I told him,” she said.

“We were in deep conversation. He was very attentive and he was very compassionate. I met with a really nice man, who does care.”

Recovering from the trip to the coast cost Unrau five days of pain and exhaustion.

Adams acknowledged that sacrifice.

“Due to strength and ability, Christina was really representing a lot of invisible people who are not heard.”

Adams said the BCRHN will continue to pursue policy change for rural health patients.

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Andrea DeMeer

About the Author: Andrea DeMeer

Andrea is the publisher of the Similkameen Spotlight.
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