Dialyzed and awaiting a transplant in addition to recovering from cancer, Vincent Boulay no longer believed in much until life put on his path the one who will become his wife, but also the one who will allow him to be reborn by giving him a kidney.
It’s hard not to believe in fate when you meet Vincent Boulay and Mélanie Dupont. The couple have only been together for a year, but it’s obvious that they are made for each other.
Suffering from birth defects, Mr. Boulay had to have a kidney removed at the age of two.
His remaining kidney then showed signs of failure in his early adult life until the ax fell in 2018.
“The doctor told me it was the transplant or the dialysis”, drops the 43-year-old guy who will have done everything to “stretch out as much as possible” the deadline.
In 2019, he was put on Transplant Québec’s waiting list, but another tile fell on him a few months later.
“I learned in July 2020 that I was suffering from blood cancer,” says the man.
- Listen to Vincent Boulay’s interview at the microphone of Vincent Dessureault on QUB radio:
The most beautiful of coincidences
Chemotherapy followed and, above all, his removal from the transplant waiting list. It’s the bottom of the barrel.
“I told my doctor at that time that I would not do 40 years of dialysis. For me, it’s prison,” recalls Mr. Boulay with emotion.
It is at the end of her chemotherapy treatments that Mélanie enters the scene, by chance, at the bend of a dating site. If she was looking for seriousness, he, feeling diminished by his state of health, was only looking for “a motorcycle partner”.
But faced with the force of the thunderbolt, his plans quickly changed. Especially since his new flame never let go of the harsh prognosis that awaited him, even though he had beaten cancer and was once again on the waiting list for a transplant.
“I was never afraid of that, his disease, the dialysis, the transplant”, declares Mme Dupont.
gift of life
But even if love sweetened the daily life, the deadline remained the same. It was there that Mélanie made the most generous donation possible. As the prognosis is improved for a transplant from a living donor, there was only one solution for her: her kidney would save her man.
“I have never been so certain of anything in life. I know it’s mine, it’s my love, ”says the one who has worked for 20 years as a beneficiary attendant.
And when we said earlier that Vincent and Mélanie were made for each other, all the tests confirmed perfect compatibility.
“My kidneys are so oversized for my height,” laughs the 4’11 woman, while her spouse is 6’3. “For my height, my kidneys should measure about 9 cm, but I have one that is 11 and the other one is 11.5. As if they were made for someone bigger. »
And this someone is still struggling to believe in all these twists of fate as the operation, which should take place somewhere this fall, approaches.
“The first time I came to meet her, I almost turned around so much I was scared and nervous,” recalls Vincent Boulay with emotion, looking at her sweet.
“It’s finally a decision that will have saved my life and that will have made me find love. »
The career of Vincent Boulay
- Birth with a malformation of the ureters
- Removal of his left kidney at 2 years old
- Onset of right kidney failure at age 20
- Terminal stage in 2018; his kidney only works at 5%
- Registration on the waiting list for a transplant in June 2019
- Diagnosis of cancer, multiple myeloma in July 2020
- End of treatment and meeting with his spouse in the summer of 2021
- Beginning of the analysis process for a possible donation in the winter of 2021-2022
- Surgery scheduled for fall 2022
Fighting to end financial stress
Well advanced in their kidney donation process, Vincent Boulay and Mélanie Dupont are also leading a parallel fight for the recognition of living donors and their financial health, undermined by the little compensation offered.
“It’s not the operation that scares me, it’s the financial side,” says Mme Dupont who will be entitled, for his two-month convalescence period, to sickness unemployment which covers 55% of his salary.
A reimbursement program from Transplant Québec does exist, but once the planned deductions are removed, she estimates that she will receive a meager sum of $15 extra per week.
“I had two children, I gave birth twice and I was given 90% of my salary on maternity leave. And there, what I’m doing is literally bringing my boyfriend back to life by giving him my kidney and I’m just entitled to 55%, ”she laments.
The couple find it unfortunate that Quebec does not encourage living donation more by taking better care of donors. Because the saving that the gesture will offer to the State by leaving Vincent Boulay from dialysis is much greater than the compensation for lost wages to which his spouse wishes to be entitled.
“It’s between $55,000 and $70,000 per year for a dialysis patient. Whereas the transplant costs $25,000 once and then $5,000 per year in medication,” explains Vincent Boulay.
Mélanie would only like an amount to cover the loss of salary, nothing more.
“I’m not doing this to make money. There would be a $ 4,000, $ 5,000 planned for the two months and we would not be here to talk about it, ”she says.
The couple gives the example of New Zealand, where 100% of donor salary losses have been compensated since 2017. The initiative has tripled the number of living donors.
“Donating should be encouraged. During the pandemic, the government had $2 million to put on a lottery to encourage the vaccine, but organ donation also saves lives,” notes Mélanie Dupont.
Transplant Quebec, which administers the reimbursement program, confirms that the Ministry of Health is currently in the process of reviewing the program, but cannot say more. “For our part, we apply the ministerial directives, but what I know is that they have received reports and recommendations and that they are being analyzed,” explains Annie-Carole Martel, communications manager.
Meanwhile, for lack of anything better, the couple had no choice but to turn to crowdfunding to make sure they got through the financial stress of two months out of work. “And if there are any left, we will help other transplant families who need it because we realized that there are a lot of them, unfortunately.”