Michael Amyot and his family are full of thanks to the Fort St. James community for supporting his journey to recovery after undergoing a lung transplant on Valentine’s Day.
Amyot’s sisters Carol Bugart and Patricia Coulter organized a fundraiser through GoFundMe to help support his expenses while recovering in Vancouver. The day after launching the fundraiser Bugart said they had already raised $10,000.
“We just wanted it to raise enough money for his accommodations, food and gas. But it went above and beyond. He was just so grateful,” Bugart said.
“This community is overwhelming. They just keep coming back with so much support. I can’t think of a better place where I would like to live. It’s one of the reasons he’s fighting so hard — because of all the support he sees at home.”
Amyot, was diagnosed with emphysema in 2018 — forcing him to leave his job as his lungs were deteriorating rapidly and he was told to prepare for a double lung transplant. He had to go through testing and follow strict rules to be eligible for a transplant.
Last year one of his lungs collapsed and he was medevaced immediately. Upon returning home he was told his lungs were “like tissue paper” and very delicate.
“It was really a fine line to exercise and not blow your lungs at the same time. So anything could have happened,” Bugart said.
Amyot became eligible to be put on a list to receive a double lung transplant and had to be isolated to stay safe from contracting any illnesses.
To pass the time during isolation Amyot started baking and realized how much he enjoyed it. As he gave out his creations word got out how delicious they were.
Pastry for his pies put many grandmothers to shame and became a go-to staple at dinner time for many community members. This gave Amyot a purpose and something to do while waiting for the transplant call.
“He baked, and baked, and baked. It got around town and people started buying his baking — I bought lots of it,” Coulter said.
As luck would have it on Feb. 13 Amyot finally received that call — Vancouver General Hospital had a donor.
Within 20 minutes an ambulance was at his front door and drove him to Prince George — where he took a plane to Vancouver.
Surgery began the next morning.
On Feb. 14 Amyot went through seven-and-a-half hours of surgery — it was a success.
“We were all on pins and needles just looking at the clock and waiting for the phone call from the surgeon,” Coulter said.
“When we finally got the call from the surgeon you could hear a pin drop in the room. We were just holding our breath to see what he was going to say.”
Amyot is now recovering in hospital as he prepares for his journey of lung rehabilitation.
His family is excited to have him back home and to see him enjoy some of his favourite pastimes — like boating and fishing on Stuart Lake.
“So far everything’s been going well. He’s had no complications whatsoever. He’s super positive and I think that’s half the battle,” Coulter said.
“He’s got a whole new outlook on life and he doesn’t take anything for granted. He’s very thankful for even the tiniest things. He does have a big road ahead of him.”