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Family of Loretta Saunders promises legal fight to save critically ill sister
The family of Loretta Saunders, a young Inuk woman who was murdered in Halifax in 2014, is now fighting to save the life of her sister.
Delilah Saunders is in hospital in Ottawa after being diagnosed with acute liver failure. Friends and family say she is being denied a spot on the transplant wait list because of her past.
"The fact that Delilah is ineligible for a transplant is unjust and discriminatory,” says Barbara Coffey, Saunders’ aunt. “The policy does not take into account multiple traumas (Delilah) has suffered in her life.”
Delilah Saunders is the sister of 26-year-old Loretta Saunders, who was found dead in a wooded area off the Trans-Canada Highway in New Brunswick two weeks after disappearing from her Halifax apartment.
The family says doctors have told them Delilah’s liver failure was triggered by taking acetaminophen. Coffey says one of the reasons for Delilah’s transplant denial is her previous struggle with alcohol.
"We are asking that the province of Ontario to wave its six months clean policy and immediately accept Delilah as a patient in their transplant program,” Coffey says. “Delilah is 26 years old, and we already lost Loretta to something that we could not control.”
Delilah and her family were in Membertou recently speaking at the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
"Her high-profile work on behalf of Indigenous women who face different forms of violence has meant that she has struggled with a chronic addiction," Coffey says.
Her family and friends are waiting at the hospital in Ottawa, all willing to be donors.
“Delilah deserves this because of all that she has given, but I also feel that Delilah deserves this because there should not be stigma against anybody in Canada and in Ontario to receive the medical care they so deserve,” says Delilah’s friend, Kelly Morrissey.
Delilah’s family says she was on the road to recovery prior to her diagnosis.
“To have this happen after she was sober for three months … she deserves this chance because it's really unfair,” says Delilah’s cousin Jessica Coffey.
There are strict guidelines as to who is eligible for a transplant. Because Delilah is not on a waiting list, her family and friends cannot even be considered to be donors.
The family plans to petition the court next week to get her name on a transplant list.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Heather Butts.