New lungs, new hope

Cindi Macphee faces tens of thou­sands in med­i­cal and travel costs


Breath­ing oxy­gen from a tube, Cindi Macphee looked to­ward her snow-cov­ered drive­way as she pon­dered the fu­ture.

is month, the 57-year-old will leave her Onslow Moun­tain home for Toronto, where she hopes a dou­ble-lung trans­plant will free her of chronic ob­struc­tive pul­monary dis­or­der that leaves her gasp­ing for air.

“I’m ner­vous,” said Macphee. “Very ner­vous, very scared. Even though there’s a good suc­cess rate, if I leave this drive­way, I may not come back.”

The fam­ily ur­gently needs thou­sands of dol­lars to cover med­i­ca­tion, travel ex­penses and ac­com­mo­da­tion in Toronto, where Macphee will stay for at least a year as she re­cov­ers from her trans­plant.

e Macphees have set up a GoFundme ac­count to raise money for their med­i­cal ex­penses, with more than $6,000 col­lected so far. Friends and neigh­bours are re­cy­cling bot­tles and hand­ing their re­funds over to help pay for the travel costs.

A do­na­tions box will also be dis­played at the Mac­quar­ries Phar­masave on Truro’s Es­planade Street.

eir needs are all the greater as Macphee’s hus­band, Daniel, was re­cently di­ag­nosed with stage-one kid­ney cancer. His health in­sur­ance has run out but he also hopes to have his treat­ment in Toronto.

“It’s over­whelm­ing, to say the least,” said Macphee’s daugh­ter, Cyn­thia Mil­li­gan. “I’m do­ing every­thing I can to try and raise money. Go­ing from one par­ent be­ing sick to two, it’s crazy.”

An un­fur­nished apart­ment in Toronto will cost Macphee $1,700 per month, while a fur­nished unit could be up to $3,000. e rent will not in­clude park­ing nor util­ity bills. In the mean­time, they will have to keep up their mort­gage pay­ments back in Nova Sco­tia.

The bot­tled oxy­gen Macphee uses to help her breathe costs an­other $290 per month, not to men­tion her pre­scrip­tion drugs.

All told, her COPD will cost an es­ti­mated $25,000 to $30,000 to deal with. Macphee, her hus­band and Mil­li­gan have all had to leave their jobs as a re­sult.

For those peo­ple who say Cana­dian health care is free, Macphee’s re­ply was blunt.

“No – that is not true,” she said. e fam­ily must be in Toronto by Jan. 21 to start pre­par­ing for MacPhee’s lung trans­plant.

Be­fore her surgery, she must un­dergo in­ten­sive phys­io­ther­apy to help her re­gain as much health as pos­si­ble. Macphee will also un­dergo a bat­tery of med­i­cal tests.

She will have her surgery as soon as a set of lungs be­comes avail­able.

Af­ter the surgery, Macphee will re­main in Toronto, as doc­tors make sure her new lungs are work­ing prop­erly, and her body does not re­ject them.

De­spite the stress and un­cer­tainty, she feels it will be worth it.

“I will be able to breathe, play with my grand­son and pick him up,” said Macphee.

She has now lived with COPD for more than six years, su er­ing her rst at­tack of breath­less­ness while work­ing in Fort Mc­mur­ray, Alta., as a cleaner, earn­ing a good wage.

But Macphee says the clean­ing chem­i­cals made her sick.

“I’ve never been the same,” she said. To do­nate on­line, visit https://


Cindi Macphee, left, and her daugh­ter Cyn­thia Mil­li­gan are rais­ing money for Cindi’s trip to Toronto for a dou­ble-lung trans­plant later this month. They will need funds for med­i­ca­tion, ac­com­mo­da­tion and travel ex­penses.

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