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Health

B.C. man believed to be first Canadian to get intravenous gene therapy

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CALGARY — A big sushi meal would have once made Josh McQuillin gravely ill, but the British Columbia man can now gorge on one of his favourite foods worry-free thanks to a breakthrough clinical trial for his rare genetic disorder.

McQuillin was 12 when he was diagnosed with urea cycle disorder, a life-threatening condition that causes ammonia to build up in the body and can put a person in a coma.

He had to strictly limit how much protein he ate and took expensive medication several times a day. He could never be too far from a hospital, which made it hard to travel abroad or join friends backcountry camping.

“Now I can eat as much protein as I want. I’m eating differently, sleeping differently, exercising differently,” McQuillin, 30, said during a monitoring appointment at Calgary’s Foothills Medical Centre on Thursday.

“I’ve gained a bit of weight. I’ve never had to fight weight gain before, which is kind of funny. I’ve always been underweight my whole entire life.”

The genes needed to process ammonia were delivered to McQuillin’s liver intravenously. A virus, modified to be harmless, was used as a transmitter. It’s believed McQuillin is the first Canadian to receive gene replacement this way. Only three other people in the world have undergone similar treatment.

McQuillin, who lives in Prince George, B.C., said he felt the results two weeks after the one-time injection.

Aneal Khan with the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine is leading the trial. He also treated McQuillin in Ontario when he first got sick as a boy.

Khan recalled telling McQuillin’s parents years ago that he wasn’t sure their son would survive.

“Since he’s had this therapy, his ammonia has not gone high, despite him eating whatever amount of protein he wants. It’s a massive change,” said Khan. “We’re very excited — especially for rare genetic diseases, DNA diseases —  that we don’t have to tell the parents that stuff anymore.”

Khan said the treatment is being studied for other genetic diseases involving the liver such as hemophilia.

Alberta Health Services has set aside beds in Foothills hospital’s intensive care unit for clinical trial patients. That’s important, because it’s often not known whether an experimental treatment will have serious adverse effects, said Christopher Doig, a medical director in intensive care for the agency’s Calgary zone

“They can get it in a very safe way where they can be very closely watched, very closely monitored. At the same time, we’re not using resources taking away from other patients.”

McQuillin said he’s looking forward to going on a road trip in the United Kingdom this spring without having to worry about his medication or whether the nearest hospital can treat his condition. He can also rest easier when on his forestry job, which once required painstaking meal planning for trips into the bush.   

“Everything’s 100 per cent good to go for now,” he said.

“I guess my only concern or fear is they don’t know really how long it will last. But it’s definitely exciting.”

Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version had Josh McQuillin’s last name spelled incorrectly.

Alberta

THE 100 MILLION DOLLAR ANNOUNCEMENT – First Phase of Red Deer Regional Hospital Expansion to start in 2021!

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The Government of Alberta announces a major $100 million first phase expansion of the Red Deer Hospital.

First phase of Red Deer hospital expansion announced

The Alberta government is committing $100 million to begin expansion of the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.

This capital funding is in addition to the $20.6 billion annual budget for health services, the highest ever in the province and the highest per capita of all provinces.

“For years, residents of central Alberta and Red Deer have been calling for their hospital to be expanded. Our government is the first to listen. I’m proud to announce funding will be made available as part of Budget 2020 for the first phase of the Red Deer hospital expansion.”

Jason Kenney, Premier

The Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre is the busiest hospital outside Edmonton and Calgary and has operated beyond its design capacity for many years.

The funding will expedite work to finalize the project scope, construction schedule, operating budget, and expansion of health care services at the facility.

“Past governments wasted years on half-measures and planning that we are completing now. This initial $100-million commitment is our promise to Red Deer that we will get this done right, and as soon as possible.”

Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health

“Designing, planning and building health infrastructure provides good jobs for Albertans. We are committed to getting the front-end work of this project right so that the people of Red Deer and surrounding areas have a hospital that meets their needs.”

Prasad Panda, Minister of Infrastructure

“The Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre is one of the busiest hospitals in Alberta and is the primary health-service provider for our citizens, the regional population, and every Albertan travelling along the central QEII corridor. Today’s announcement by the Government of Alberta responds to this longstanding infrastructure need of our community. The lives, health and well-being of our loved ones matter most of all, and this vital investment and expansion will help ensure access to care and improved health outcomes that the people of Red Deer and central Alberta critically need.”

Tara Veer, mayor, City of Red Deer

“This is excellent news for Red Deer and all of central Alberta. The Red Deer community has long advocated for improvements to the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre, and this initial funding commitment clearly demonstrates our government’s willingness to listen to, and act upon, the concerns of Albertans from all across the province.”

Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education and MLA for Red Deer-North

“This is great news for central Albertans! Thank you to the leadership of Premier Kenney and Minister Shandro in hearing the concerns of central Albertans and taking decisive action to improve access to much-needed health services in our community.”

Jason Stephan, MLA for Red Deer-South

Quick facts

  • The Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre provides a full spectrum of acute care, including advanced surgery, internal medicine and diagnostics, as well as obstetrics, pediatrics, oncology, critical care and emergency care.
  • Approximately 50 per cent of patients seen at the hospital are referred from outside Red Deer.
  • The population of the Red Deer area is expected to increase by 24 per cent to 358,000 by 2035.

 

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Community

Judith: I’m in a good place now.

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PCN Judith

Judith was in her early eighties and living on her own when she ran into health issues that made it unsafe to be alone. She is a poor senior and neither her or her family knew where she could go to live safely.

Her family physician set up an appointment with the RDPCN Elder Care Assessment Clinic which she attended with her daughter. Judith was very nervous and hesitant about this appointment. When she got there she found a group of supportive, empathetic, courteous and helpful health care professionals. They made her very comfortable and relaxed. The assessment was very valuable. It set a baseline for Judith’s present condition. Her medications were reviewed which helped Judith, her family and her Doctor know what was going on. They informed her of some valuable resources including physio at the hospital. In fact, the family states that they were very surprised how much they didn’t know about the senior supports available. Previously the fees she was paying privately for physio were draining her resources. The clinic bridged her with community supportive living options and she fell in love with Pine Lodge. Luckily for her they had space and she willingly moved in a few months later. Her biggest challenge then was to downsize her stuff.

Judith and her family know this move would not have been nearly as smooth without the Elder Care Assessment Clinic. They are shocked and amazed how her move and accessing resources for her health needs came together so well. The PCN connected her with the key resources she needed. Judith and her family found out there is a system for poor seniors, and the Elder Care Assessment clinic is a great way to connect with it. Judith is in a very good situation now.

Click below for some other stories from Primary Care Network:

I Did Everything the Family Nurse suggested and it Worked like Magic!

Achieving Mental Health is an Everyday Task

 

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february, 2020

sun12jan(jan 12)2:00 pmsun22mar(mar 22)5:00 pmAnne Frank: A History for Today opening at Red Deer MAG(january 12) 2:00 pm - (march 22) 5:00 pm mst Red Deer Museum & Art Gallery Address: 4525 - 47A Avenue, Red Deer

sun02feb(feb 2)7:00 pmsun15mar(mar 15)8:00 pm7:00 pm - (march 15) 8:00 pm Festival Hall, 4214 58 St, Red Deer, AB Event Organized By: Country Pride Dance Club

fri28febsun01mar54th Annual Sport & Outdoor Show4:00 pm - (march 1) 9:00 pm

fri28feb6:00 pm11:00 pmFriday Family DanceFamily Dance6:00 pm - 11:00 pm

fri28feb7:00 pm11:00 pmBattle of the Bands for Crime Prevention7:00 pm - 11:00 pm Burgundy's Food & Stage, 5008 48 ST Event Organized By: The Central Alberta Crime Prevention Centre

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