Another family is coming forward to complain about a B.C. Transplant policy, and this time it’s too late to get their loved one on the waitlist – because he died after several weeks in hospital.
Gaurav Chopra, 42, developed a major liver condition sometime in April and his widow says his condition deteriorated quickly.
Gagan Grewal was by her husband’s side for five weeks as he lay in a Vancouver General Hospital bed dying a slow, painful death.
“It was really hard and I felt so helpless because there was this policy in place that they said they could not bend,” she said.
The policy she’s talking about required potential transplant recipients to abstain from alcohol for at least six months before being eligible for the transplant waitlist, but it no longer exists because B.C. Transplant abolished it in May.
Still, Grewal claims when Chopra was admitted to VGH in June, he was told he could not qualify for the waitlist until the end of August. He died on Aug. 3.
“I kind of blame myself a little bit for not fighting for him more,” said Grewal. “I just trusted the system blindly. I thought, I’m in Canada, this is a good country and systems work here.”
She only found out about the change in policy last week, after another man, David Dennis, filed a human rights complaint over a waitlist denial due to the alcohol abstinence policy.
B.C. Transplant later called his situation a "misunderstanding."
The province’s health minister declined an interview, but said he is aware of the details of Chopra’s case.
“We rely on the expertise of medical professionals to make these very difficult decisions in the best interest of all patients, and to ensure the decisions are made are based on sound medical evidence,” Adrian Dix said in a statement.
B.C. Transplant also declined an interview.
“Medical teams make decisions on organ transplants based on a multitude of medical and clinical considerations, including the likelihood of the individual surviving organ transplant surgery in their current state of health,” the agency said.
Grewal is left wondering if her husband would still be alive if he’d been put on the waitlist right away.
“We were just still building our life in this country. It is really hard. I feel like I have nothing to live for right now,” she said. “I’m just trying to work and do things, but I don’t have my life partner by my side.”