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Fort St John's Eric Coulam fights for his life in Edmonton

A youth from Fort St John is fighting for his life in Edmonton, after months of deteriorating health. Eric Coulam, age 19, is need of a multiple organ transplant, including his liver, kidneys, pancreas and small bowel.
Eric Coulam
Eric Coulam with his younger brothers Greysen and Brodie.

A youth from Fort St John is fighting for his life in Edmonton, after months of deteriorating health. 

Eric Coulam, age 19, is need of a multiple organ transplant, including his liver, kidneys, pancreas and small bowel. He’s the first person his age in Canada to be put on this type of transplant list.

Eric’s mother, Gayle Broddle, says the ordeal has been overwhelming. The family has been commuting to Edmonton for the past six months to visit Eric. 

“As much as we can, we’ve been going back and forth. It’s definitely been a huge struggle and we would like to be there more often, you deal with a level of guilt of not being able to be there,” said Broddle.

Eric weighs only 73lbs and any donor must match both Eric’s weight and blood type.

Broddle says Eric has yet to be listed due to provincial medical services debating whether he is a resident in BC or Alberta. A new BC health card was required to identify Eric, but the youth has been in Alberta for the past six months.  

“We’re at the point where we need to be there to spend as much time as possible, because we honestly don’t know what will happen,” said Broddle. 

Eric’s health started to decline last October, spending numerous hours in waiting rooms and doctors’ offices in Fort St John to determine why he was sick.

“He went from being actively involved in the community, coaching out his brothers’ hockey, helping out where he could, and just all of a sudden he started to get sick,” said Gayle. “We got brushed off so many times, doctors and emergency rooms, it was a nightmare, just dealing with the system up here.”

Eric was well liked in the community for coaching Fort St John Minor Hockey and had just started heavy duty mechanic training. 

In March, Eric was admitted to hospital in Dawson Creek for emergency surgery. By early April, he was taken to Grande Prairie, and put into a medically induced coma.

Multiple surgeries were attempted, but the damage was so severe that his small bowel to be removed. He was transported to Edmonton shortly after.

Broddle says Eric’s two younger brothers continue to love him no matter what.

“They’re great kids in the way of they don’t look at what his outside appearance is, they just look at that’s their brother and they love him. Visits have been wonderful, they’ve definitely spent time together,” said Broddle.

Eric’s father, Wade Coulam, continues to support the family as an oil and gas worker.

“It’s been a lot of emotional trauma, emotional stress for him for sure. He keeps plugging along though. Great guy. Just trying to keep up with everything and try to remain strong for everybody,” said Broddle.

A Go Fund Me page has been set up for Eric, with just under $25,000 raised so far.

Email reporter Tom Summer at tsummer@ahnfsj.ca