BC Transplant cites 'misunderstanding' in liver transplant case
Earlier this week, 44-year-old David Dennis filed a human rights complaint alleging that the agency's alcohol abstinence policy -- which the agency says it officially ended in May -- is discriminatory. (CTV)
Ian Holliday, CTV News Vancouver, with files from Maria Weisgarber
Published Thursday, August 15, 2019 6:36PM PDT
BC Transplant says it is in contact with a man who has end-stage liver disease over what it calls "a misunderstanding" regarding the province's alcohol abstinence policy for transplant recipients.
Earlier this week, 44-year-old David Dennis filed a complaint with the BC Human Rights Tribunal alleging that the policy is discriminatory and calling for it to be removed.
According to BC Transplant, the policy being challenged is no longer in place.
“With the emergence of new medical research and evidence we have been reviewing our clinical guidelines over the last year," said Ed Ferre, provincial operations director for BC Transplant in a statement. "In May 2019, we removed the alcohol abstinence recommendation from our exclusion criteria. Since then, no patients have been refused or removed from the transplant list for this reason alone."
Ferre said his organization has been "in direct contact" with Dennis and that "the process for transplant assessment is underway" in his case.
"Unfortunately in this situation, we believe there was a misunderstanding of the guidelines and processes around liver transplantation and we apologize for any upset caused," the statement read.
In his human rights complaint, Dennis says he has abstained from alcohol since June 4. Under the old policy, he would not have been eligible for the transplant list until Dec. 4 at the earliest.
In his statement, Ferre said BC Transplant still recommends sobriety for some patients.
"On occasion, we still encourage alcohol abstinence for patients and often find that this improves the liver condition and can sometimes remove the need for transplant altogether," Ferre said. "It's important to note that guidelines are there to support clinicians in determining the most appropriate care and treatment for their patients. They are not a strict policy as every patient is in a unique situation and is individually assessed."