Cindy Winnipeg, MB

CindyHaving lived with Hepatitis C for a number of years, Cindy Schmuland was running out of time. She had contracted the virus from a tainted blood transfusion in the 1980s, and while her medical team had tried a number of treatments since then –- including new and emerging options – none had been able to put the hepatitis into remission. The resulting damage to her liver left Cindy with cirrhosis.

In January 2016, as part of her ongoing treatment, doctors found tumors on her liver, adding a new and unwelcome twist to her already deteriorating health: an MRI revealed that the tumors were cancerous.
Her medical team suggested she seek a transplant. Her cirrhosis had progressed to stage four, and doctors continued to find new cancerous growths on the organ. If Cindy was going to survive, she would need a new liver.

“But it wasn’t that easy,” says Cindy, “I would need a whole bunch of tests before they said yes or no to a transplant.”

In fact, she would need to travel to Toronto for those tests, as it was one of only a handful of medical centres nationally that could perform the life-saving liver transplant, and the closest one to her home in Winnipeg.
Toronto, however, was a 22-hour drive away.
She would need to travel to Toronto for those tests. Toronto, however, was a 22-hour drive away.

As a single mom of two, she didn’t have the money to fly herself to Toronto – let alone her daughter as well. The transplant team mandated that she have a caretaker, in this case her daughter, who would need to accompany Cindy to the evaluation.

Out of options, Cindy didn’t know what to do and feared she might not make it to her assessment in Toronto. That’s when she heard about Hope Air from her social worker.

“I was floored,” recalls Cindy, “I didn’t believe it at first.”

After filling out an application online, Hope Air was able to provide return flights for Cindy and her daughter from Winnipeg to Pearson International Airport in Toronto via WestJet. Instead of a long, tiresome journey by car, she was able to fly from Winnipeg to Toronto in a few short hours, saving time and stress.

She was then able to easily get to Toronto General Hospital, where her assessment went as planned, and she was soon approved for the transplant list.

“I would not have been able to afford to get to Toronto otherwise. This might not have happened,” she remembers.

While she waited for a liver to become available Cindy continued with her cancer treatments, which were both physically and emotionally draining.

“It was getting scary… I didn’t know what was going to happen,” says Cindy.

Months later, Cindy got the transplant she needed. Now, she no longer has to battle cancer and can concentrate on her fight against hepatitis, thanks in large part to Hope Air’s assistance.

“The quality of life that people experience after Hope Air’s help is just amazing,” says Cindy. “Having Hope Air support me was incredible.”