Toronto: Kidney donor from El Salvador denied Canadian visa to help relative by marriage

Vilma Serrano has end-stage renal disease and needs a kidney transplant. A relative in El Salvador has offered to be a donor, but was twice denied a Canadian visitor’s visa.

Kidney donor denied a Canadian visa to help desperate Toronto relative
Published on Friday November 23, 2012

Vilma Serrano has end-stage renal disease and needs a kidney transplant. A relative in El Salvador has offered to be a donor, but was twice denied a Canadian visitor’s visa.

Nicholas Keung
Immigration Reporter

Vilma Serrano has end-stage renal disease and needs a new kidney, but only Immigration Minister Jason Kenney can help.

The 44-year-old Toronto woman has been on a wait list for a kidney transplant from a deceased donor since 2009, and was thrilled when a living donor, a relative by marriage in El Salvador, offered to donate one of his kidneys.

Guillermo David Martell Novas, the brother of Serrano’s husband’s sister-in-law, completed all preliminary medical tests and was deemed a viable donor, but hit a roadblock with Canada’s immigration office.

Twice, Novas, 38, who lives in El Salvador, applied for and was denied a visitor’s visa to come here for further tests and a possible transplant, once in October 2011 and again this past January.

“We were so excited we found the match. Now we are shocked, sad and disappointed,” said Serrano’s husband, Jose, who fled civil war back home with his wife in 1989.

“My wife can’t go outside the house for too long because she needs to do her peritoneal dialysis five times a day. She is dying and we need more compassion from our government.”

Serrano’s 19-year-old daughter has launched a “Save our Vilma” online petition at vilmasfriends.wordpress.com to gather public support and is asking Ottawa to reverse the visa office’s decision.

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