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Man at center of transplant controversy may get new liver

David Dennis claimes he kicked off the transplant waitlist for a liver because he does not meet the sobriety requirements. (Source: CityNews Vancouver)

BC Transplant says it removed its six months sobriety rule in May

David Dennis has filed a complaint with the BC Human Rights tribunal

Dennis says the sobriety rule is discriminatory towards Indigenous people.

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – An indigenous man who has filed a human rights complaint over transplant rules requiring six months of sobriety is being assessed to potentially get a new liver after all.

BC Transplant says in May it eliminated rules requiring potential liver recipients to abstain from alcohol for six months.

“We have been in direct contact with the patient and can confirm that the process for transplant assessment is underway. 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” BC Transplant wrote in a statement. “With the emergence of new medical research and evidence we have been reviewing our clinical guidelines over the last year and 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.

David Dennis has end stage liver disease and requires a new liver, but claims he was removed from the waitlist because he has only been sober since May. He filed a challenge at the BC Human Rights Tribunal over his removal, arguing the sobriety rule is discriminatory because indigenous people suffer from higher rates of alcoholism, in large part due to intergenerational trauma.

BC Transplant says it still encourages alcohol abstinence for transplant patients because it find it improves liver condition and can “sometimes remove the need for transplant altogether.”