Settling in a new country and struggling to get a job amid the COVID-19 pandemic, newcomer Piyush Sasankan thought his recent fatigue and tiredness were related to his stress and depression.
In late March, the 33-year-old Toronto man went to his GP and did a routine blood test. His red blood cell and hemoglobin count was so low that he was referred to the hospital emergency room immediately.
The software developer, originally from India, was later diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia, requiring weekly blood transfusions, before a perfect match for a bone marrow transplant could be identified.
After an exhaustive search, Sasankan and his wife, Bincy Baburaj Narath, who arrived here as skilled immigrants in February 2020, were relieved when they found a match in their younger brother, Pratul, in India.
Statistics show that even within the family, only 30 percent of patients can find a fully compatible donor.
With a letter from Dr. Rajat Kumar, the head of the complex malignant hematology department at the Princess Margaret Cancer Center, Pratul Sasankan, 30, applied in September for a visitor visa to Canada to save his brother’s life.
“A bone marrow transplant is a life-saving procedure and is the only curative therapy for Mr. Piyush Sasankan. The bone marrow donation / transplant will be planned as soon as possible after the arrival of Mr. Pratul Sasankan, ”wrote Dr. Kumar in support of the urgent visa approval for the youngest Sasankan.
In late October, the family was surprised that immigration officials rejected Pratul’s visa application, arguing that they did not believe that he would leave Canada at the end of his stay in the country.
“What is the logic of rejecting a visitor visa when someone is trying to donate bone marrow to save their brother?” said Narath, who has juggled between work and the hospital to care for her ailing husband.
“Do you mean to say that we need to be eligible with this or that criteria to be with our families and help them in crisis? Isn’t it a basic human right? “
Immigration officials stated four reasons for the visa denial, including the purpose of Pratul’s visit. His other concerns were his family ties in Canada, his lack of personal financial assets, and his employment situation.
“Everyone in my family was heartbroken as I really (am) Piyush’s last hope. But there was no time to despair, so now I am applying for a temporary resident visa again, “said Pratul, who submitted a new application, this time with the help of a Canadian lawyer.
“Once he is healthy again as a result of my bone marrow donation, there will be no reason for me to stay with him in Canada.”
Toronto attorney Leo Rayner filed for Pratul’s new application on November 4, which is still in process with no end in sight.
“The circumstances were so clearly stated in the application. This is a matter of life and death and yet our system is creeping once again, ”Rayner said.
“I can appreciate that not all visitor visa applications can receive immediate attention, but when the circumstances are so dire and someone’s life is at stake. The fact that this matter has not been expedited is perverse. I’m really furious. “
Rayner said the new application has addressed the red flags that were raised in the original visa denial letter by explaining that Pratul has been unemployed because he is competing in bodybuilding competitions and working to start his own gym. He also highlighted Pratul’s family ties to his elderly parents in India who need his attention.
While all medical costs related to the transplant will be covered by his brother’s OHIP, Pratul said the costs of his stay in Canada will be covered by his sister-in-law, who has a paid job as a data scientist.
“The only reason I am here is to donate my bone marrow so that my brother can heal and get his life back. This disease hit him without warning, and the only thing we want as a family is for him to be healthy again, ”said Pratul.
“I will leave Canada and return home to India. You can be assured that I will not exceed my visa or violate Canadian immigration laws in any way. “
Narath said her husband has been in the hospital since October after he developed an infection from a hemorrhoidectomy. He has not recovered and must sleep on his stomach and be fed intravenously to avoid further pain.
She said Sasankan first needs to recover from the infection before he can begin chemotherapy and, if possible, receive his bone marrow transplant. You would like your brother in law to be on hold in Canada for the donation process once your husband is ready.
Sasankan, he said, was an avid and healthy runner, and had just completed a new certification in full stack web development in Canada in February when he began to feel ill.
“We have come to this beautiful country with the dream of building our life and career and contributing our skills. Now, we have no choice but to be hopeful and fight this battle, and we are ready for it, ”Narath said.
“This visitor visa is nothing more than our hope to regain a healthy life for my husband.”
Next to her husband’s hospital bed, Piyush said that Sasankan was too sleepy and drowsy due to his medication to speak to Star.
“But he had told me this before, ‘I want to live, and I will fight this.’