Friday, May 15, 2009

Podunk Below the Masthead, Thursday, May 14 2009

A former Rupertite's new lease on life, a quest for a new name for the Pacific Coast school and Port Edward doesn't raise its taxes, some of the featured items of the Thursday Daily News.

RUPERT BORN FIREFIGHTER IS WORKING WITH A NEW HEART-- Former Prince Rupert resident Brian Parsons has a new heart and a new lease on life, the Daily News outlined the latest in his remarkable story as the front page headline story in the Thursday paper (see article below)

Other items that the Daily examined on Thursday included the latest from the School District, which has the name for the recently opened Pacific School up for discussion, with the thought of a name change for the downtown classrooms of the educational location. Whether reaching back into history to bring back the Kaien Island Alternative School name, find a worthy local in history or look for a new concept for a name, a decision will have to be submitted by June the 1st.

Port Edward keeps their taxpayers content with details that they are holding the line when it comes to taxes for the community. Taxes will remain at the 5.0 level for 2009, and the good news continued for its residents as council there heard the details of some two million dollars in funding for repairs to their aging waterline system.

Thursday's sports pages featured a review of a controversial boxing decision that affected local boxer Forrest Shale last weekend, which saw the Rupertite denied a victory when the scorecards were totalled up.

The end of the Darts season was also were examined in Thursday's edition.

Total pages for Thursday's paper 14

Front Page, Headline story:

By Moncia Lamb-Yorski
The Daily News
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Pages 1 and 3

It has been over a month since former Rupertite Brian Parsons returned to work at the Vernon Fire Department.

Parsons had a heart transplant in February 2008 and is the second firefighter in North America to return to work after a transplant.

From his home in Vernon, '44 year-old Parsons said things are going welL On Monday he had been in Salmon Arm teaching a first aid course.

Parsons received permission to return to work on March 28 after taking a York University fitness test to determine if he was healthy enough to return to work.

"I managed to pass that, then I was clear," he said. "A lot of the doctors were really surprised. I had the highest possible scores."

His doctors have told him there is talk of publishing the studies of his transplant and recovery.' Parsons moved away from Prince Rupert almost six years ago and lives in Vernon with his wife Rona.

Prior to leaving Rupert he worked in fire protection at Skeena Cellulose for seven years, where he was the assistant chief.

"There were six or eight full-time people and a first aid attendant. We had our. own little fire pump and responded to fires on site."

Three years after moving away, Parsons developed a cough that wouldn't go away, so in August 2006 he went to see a doctor.

After various diagnoses including a possible summer cold, asthma or acid reflex, and a round of antibiotics, he ended up having an x-ray.

The results showed an enlarged heart and in November 2006 he went to Kelowna and learned he was in the late stages of heart failure.

"I had ten percent of my heart capacity," he explained.

Efforts were made to correct the problem with drugs but eventually Parsons had to leave work because his health was failing.

He spent three weeks in St. Paul's hospital and then tried a new drug for another six months.

Late September 2007, things began deteriorating and by Christmas he was having a hard time functioning. .

By January he was back in the hospital and trying new treatments and by the end of the month. was put on a list to await a transplant arid told he had an appointment to return to the hospital at the end of February. .

"If 1 didn't have a transplant by then they were going to put a Ventral Assistant Device (VAD) in."

Then, on February 24 Parsons received a call that a suitable heart had been found. He was fine to drive down for the procedure. ''I'd been going to the gym that day."

While finding his way down was .not problematic, securing a medivac to transport the heart became an issue. .

The Academy Awards were on that weekend and all planes had gone down south, said Parsons.

St. Paul's contacted an executive at Telus .and asked if they could use the company jet. “A team came in, got clearance and because of that there was publicity," said Parsons.

When the family of the donor saw the news, they contacted the BC Transplant Society and because of that, Parsons learned who the donor was, his age and what he looked like.

"I am very fortunate. He donated all seven of his organs and his corneas.

The donor "was roughly Parsons' size, the same height and fairly active.”

"I asked if it was a good heart and learned it was obviously a good match.”

It was a Friday when Parsons was operated on and he was unconscious for a couple of days afterward.

When he woke up on Monday morning, he noticed immediately that his cough had disappeared. Leading up to the transplant he had nm been able to say a full sentence without coughing. His colouring had changed too, he recalled. "My face was sionotic before."

In a 'week he was discharged and went to stay with friends in nearby Steveston so he could go into Vancouver a couple. 'of times a week for biopsies.

"I would lie on a table. They'd make an incision in the side of my neck, put in a catheter and take samples of tissue from the heart," he said, admitting it was a painful procedure.

The biopsies were performed once a week because that's the only way they can see if the heart is being rejected. In February 2009 he learned his biopsy days were over.

After the operation he had a good look at his old heart and saw that it was three times the size of a normal one.

"I asked the doctor if it would have repaired itself and he said, "no"."

Parsons has always exercised and led a healthy lifestyle.

He's pretty close to where he was before he started feeling sick and has managed to gain back 25 of the 40 pounds he lost.

"I feel far better than 1 did a year ago," he said.

For the rest of his life he'll be taking about 25 pills a day.

Some of them are anti rejection drugs and others counteract the side effects. Drugs aside, he feels lucky to be able to return to a job he loves and said it was always his goal to go back.

To me it’s just who I am and part of my lifestyle. 1 couldn't imagine doing something else. When they told me 1 could go back to work it was quite a victory for me."

As he enjoys a new lease on life, a day doesn't go by that the 44-year-old doesn't think about the donor.

"You can't do anything more altruistic than give a part of your self when you're gone."

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