Vancouver resident Ibrahim Essandoh needs a kidney transplant, but his brother in Africa, who is a perfect match and willing to donate his own kidney, has been denied a visa by the Canadian government.
The 42-year-old married father of three has been a Canadian citizen for 25 years, and is currently receiving kidney dialysis at St. Paul's Hospital twice a week.
Two of his brothers matched him and could donate their own kidneys, but one was unable to because of a blood condition. The other, Thomas, lives in Ghana, and currently cannot get permission to enter the country.
"The doctor has issued the documentation for my brother to come over. When I put application in -- it was rejected," he said. "I need to have a transplant and Canada, here, it's not easy to have a transplant. And nobody can help you."
Essandoh has many letters supporting him including one from his doctor, Dr. David Landsberg.
"It is frustrating. We have a tremendous number of people needing transplants. A living donor transplant is the best opportunity to get off dialysis and get onto a better life," Landsberg said.
"They're skeptical that he is who he says he is and that his motives are correct and seems to be he's not able to come."
Ken Donohue of the B.C. Transplant Society says in a multicultural country donors often live outside our borders
"It's a big challenge for a lot of patients. The last 10 years we've had 57 out-of-country living donors, so it's about 5 or 6 every year. Most come from the U.S. and Asia," Donohue said.
The fact that Thomas is from West Africa would be a challenge, Donohue said.
"I think what Immigration Canada is doing is making sure this person is who they say they are and is coming for the right reasons," he said.
Essendoh said he's tried to prove that.
"[Immigration] doesn't believe that we are siblings. He issued a letter for me to send DNA. I have done that," he said.
"This is a complicated type of case," Therese Vermette of Immigration Canada said. "What I can say, in terms of process, we're looking at relationship to make sure they are bona fide siblings. We're looking at the hospital information we can get that this is the best thing for the application, and we have to look at the applicant, and of course we have to look into the background of the applicant make sure they'll be returning to their home country from Canada."
Canada's been Essendoh's home for 25 years. Now he feels let down by his adopted country.
"I have been here working most of my time, contributing, education, [paying] my taxes," he said. "If one day you fall down no one wants to care about you."