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NEWS RELEASE: BC Health Ministry Underfunding Parkinson’s Treatment

Family and friends of a Fort Langley man awaiting important surgery are calling on the B.C. Government to put more resources into Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgery for patients with Parkinson’s Disease.

More than 25 years ago, Tom Armour founded Armor Installations, one of B.C.’s top steel erection companies. Under his leadership, hundreds of young, ambitious ironworkers were trained and employed – men and women who have helped build B.C. infrastructure and projects.

Armour was diagnosed several years ago with Parkinson’s Disease and sold his company in order to focus on the fight of his life. Thanks to the care of the UBC Hospital, Armour was approved for Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgery, a special procedure that greatly improves the quality of life for Parkinson’s patients.

Unfortunately, Armour has been waiting ever since – for more than two years, and there is still no defined date for his surgery.

He’s not alone. Earlier this year, Shuswap woman Maureen Hafstein went public with her fight for the same DBS surgery. According to the Salmon Arm Observer, B.C. only has one doctor who can perform the surgery, and he needs more operating room time to clear the backlog of patients. However, that surgeon has trained a colleague, and all that’s holding back more DBS surgeries is the Health Ministry’s willingness to fund them.

Armour’s friends and family have written Health Minister Adrian Dix several times, asking for more DBS surgeries to be performed. Today, in Question Period in the B.C. Legislature, BC Liberal critics raised the issue with Minister Dix.

“DBS patients like Tom are still waiting more than two years for this surgery,” said Glenn Fallis, Tom’s son-in-law. “Dr. Christopher Honey has trained another surgeon to do DBS surgery, but funding and operating room time is stopping them. We need to speak up for these British Columbians and make sure they get the care they deserve. In a province where we spend $20 billion a year in healthcare, a million bucks just isn’t enough for these Parkinson’s patients.”

The Parkinson Society British Columbia has an active petition calling on Minister Dix to increase the number of DBS surgeries.

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