Cou­ple grate­ful for com­mu­nity sup­port

More help needed to attend med­i­cal check-ups in Toronto

The Telegram (St. John’s) - - LOCAL - BY DANETTE DOO­LEY

Nov. 3 marked a year since Len­nie Critch, his part­ner Denise Avery, and the cou­ple’s daugh­ter Kennedi up­rooted from their home in Shoal Har­bour to Toronto, where Critch awaited a new lease on life in the form of a dou­ble-lung trans­plant.

Af­ter two false alarms, Critch re­ceived his new lungs at the Toronto Gen­eral Hospi­tal in Fe­bru­ary. How­ever, since re­turn­ing home in May, the fi­nan­cial bur­den on the fam­ily con­tin­ues.

Critch is from Hil­lview, Trin­ity Bay. He turns 49 on Nov.

15. He was di­ag­nosed with a ge­netic lung dis­ease called pul­monary ar­te­rial hy­per­ten­sion (PAH) in 2010. The only cure – a dou­ble-lung trans­plant.

In pre­par­ing for the trip to Toronto in 2016, Critch’s fam­ily and friends reached out to the com­mu­nity for fi­nan­cial help.

Since the trans­plant, he now needs to be as­sessed at Toronto Gen­eral ev­ery three months – hence, the fundrais­ers con­tinue.

Avery has been shar­ing her fam­ily’s story on Face­book. She wears her heart on her sleeve in do­ing so.

“It is tear­ing at my heart and it re­ally sad­dens our fam­ily to know that Len­nie may not get to his ap­point­ments in Toronto in a week or so to have his ninemonth lung trans­plant assess­ment done,” she wrote on Nov.


While Critch is do­ing well and longs to get back to work even­tu­ally – which won’t hap­pen un­til some­time af­ter his one-year assess­ment in Fe­bru­ary 2018 – Avery said the as­sess­ments are ex­tremely im­por­tant and de­ter­mine if his body is re­ject­ing his new lungs. Es­cort needed

Tests and med­i­cal pro­ce­dures are con­ducted over sev­eral days, Avery said. One of the tests – a lung biopsy – can­not be un­der­taken un­less Critch has a sup­port per­son/es­cort with him, as he will need to be closely mon­i­tored for 24 hours af­ter his re­lease from hospi­tal.

“There’s a pos­si­bil­ity of his lungs col­laps­ing, weak­ness, breath­ing prob­lems or bleed­ing,” Avery said dur­ing a re­cent phone in­ter­view.

While Hope Air pays for Critch’s travel to and from Toronto, Avery said they have to come up with the money for an es­cort to travel with him.

Hope Air pro­vides free flights for low-in­come Cana­di­ans who must travel far from home for vi­tal med­i­cal ap­point­ments.

The over­all cost for the trip is about $3,000, Avery said, which includes the flight for the sup­port per­son, ho­tels, taxis, meals and other ex­penses.

“We do get a small re­fund (from the provincial gov­ern­ment) but not near enough to cover the ex­penses we have for those out-of- prov­ince as­sess­ments,” she said.

A state­ment pro­vided by the De­part­ment of Health and Com­mu­nity Ser­vices touts the provincial Med­i­cal Travel Assistance Pro­gram (MTAP) as “one of the most gen­er­ous in the coun­try.”

The pro­gram pro­vides fi­nan­cial assistance to ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the Med­i­cal Care Plan (MCP) who in­cur sub­stan­tial out-of­pocket travel costs to ac­cess spe­cial­ized in­sured med­i­cal ser­vices not avail­able in their im­me­di­ate area of res­i­dence and/or within the prov­ince.

Ac­cord­ing to the state­ment, when the re­fer­ring spe­cial­ist signs the MTAP ap­pli­ca­tion stat­ing an es­cort is re­quired, the pro­gram as­sists with the as­so­ci­ated travel ex­penses re­lated to the es­cort. The es­cort must share ac­com­mo­da­tions un­less the pa­tient is hos­pi­tal­ized, and travel ex­penses for es­cort must orig­i­nate from the pa­tient’s home com­mu­nity.

Avery works 20 hours a week, and Critch gets a monthly dis­abil­ity pay­ment.

Avery said the money the fam­ily re­ceived from do­na­tions to an ear­lier on­line Gofundme ini­tia­tive was ex­hausted sev­eral months ago when Critch and a sup­port per­son trav­elled to Toronto for his six-month checkup.

Thanks to fam­ily, friends and sup­port from the com­mu­nity, the fundrais­ers con­tinue.

The fam­ily was touched re­cently when the win­ner of a 50/50 draw that Jen­nifer Martin Simmons held for Critch – Deb­o­rah Sin­den-ry­erse of On­tario – do­nated her $250-prize back to the fam­ily.

Critch and Avery had met Sin­den-ry­erse in Toronto. She made the do­na­tion in mem­ory of her hus­band, who died shortly af­ter his trans­plant.

Martin Simmons has since held a sec­ond 50/50 fundraiser, while Doreen Miller Seaward has or­ga­nized a bake sale to take place dur­ing the reg­u­larlysched­uled bingo game at the Le­gion in Clarenville on Nov. 13.

Do­na­tions of baked goods can be dropped off in ad­vance by con­tact­ing Avery at 709 425 2111.

For Avery, it’s dif­fi­cult to put to words just how thank­ful she and her part­ner are to those who con­tinue to do­nate to her fam­ily.

“I wish I never had to (ask for money) and no one knows how hard it is for me to have to... but we des­per­ately need help,” Avery wrote in her Face­book post.

Avery also thanked or­gan donors, “es­pe­cially Len­nie’s.”

“With­out them there is no hope for a con­tin­u­a­tion of life,” she said.

Fi­nan­cial do­na­tions can be made to the Len­nie Critch Trans­plant Fund at any CIBC Bank (Ac­count # 22-04711, Tran­sit # 00573. E-trans­fers can also be made to


Len­nie Critch, his part­ner Denise Avery, and their 12-year-old daugh­ter Kennedi. Since re­turn­ing home from Critch’s dou­ble-lung trans­plant in May, the fi­nan­cial bur­den on the fam­ily con­tin­ues.

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