First COVID-19 death of a nurse confirmed in B.C.
VANCOUVER -- For the first time in British Columbia, COVID-19 has taken the life of a nurse.
Diana Law died on April 14, following a lengthy battle with the virus. Law, 57, was a patient care coordinator at Peace Arch Hospital in White Rock. Prior to that, she worked at the former Shaughnessy Hospital in Vancouver.
Law started feeling sick last Christmas. Her family thought it may have been a side effect of medication she took regularly for a kidney transplant she had eight years ago.
Then, on New Year’s Eve, Law was admitted to Vancouver General Hospital. Her blood pressure and oxygen levels were low, and she tested positive for COVID-19.
“Almost immediately, they sent her to the ICU and put her into isolation,” says Glen Culshaw, Law’s husband. “And she was still testing positive for COVID for over a month. Almost two months.”
Law had not been vaccinated for COVID-19. At the time, medical experts were unsure of whether COVID-19 immunizations would be safe for transplant recipients.
While in the ICU at VGH, her condition quickly deteriorated. She was put on a ventilator and sedated for weeks. Because of that, her husband and their 16 and 19-year-old children were not able to speak with her much. However, in Law’s final days, they managed to say goodbye to the person who was the heart and soul of their family.
Law was Culshaw’s high school sweetheart. They met in 1981 and had been married for nearly three decades.
Culshaw says he’s still processing the loss of his life partner.
“You expect them to be there and they’re not there anymore. We were together so long that you can’t imagine being without each other.”
On Monday, health officials confirmed that Law is the first nurse in B.C. to have died from the virus.
“It is, as far as we know, the first nurse who was affected and died from COVID,” said Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. “It is something that affects all of us in the healthcare system when one of our own passes away.”
Nursing advocates say Law’s passing is a stark reminder of how dangerous the work of frontline healthcare workers continues to be, over one year into the pandemic.
“Diana’s passing tells us that this virus is extremely active in our communities. The risk continues. We need to do everything to control the spread of this virus,” says Christine Sorensen, president of the BC Nurses’ Union.
Law’s obituary says she was committed to the care of her patients and the wellbeing of her colleagues. She was a very giving person, easy to talk to, and quick to step in where help was needed.
Culshaw believes his wife contracted covid-19 while working at Peace Arch Hospital, but admits there’s no way of knowing that for sure.