Lawsuit over kidney transplant – Ministry, NCRHA get new extension

Married couple Vijay Nanan and Yolanda Maria Rodriguez.  -
Married couple Vijay Nanan and Yolanda Maria Rodriguez. -

BOTH the Health Ministry and the North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA) have been given a new deadline of 4 pm on Thursday, to provide a response to attorneys representing the Trinidadian man whose Venezuelan wife was not allowed to donate one of her kidneys in order to potentially save his life.

Last Thursday, attorneys for Vijay Nanan threatened to file for judicial review challenging the ministry’s policy that it does not accept donors from overseas and who are not TT citizens.

The letter was issued by Nanan’s attorneys Anand Ramlogan, SC, Jayanti Lutchmedial, Ganesh Saroop and Gary Ramkissoon. The ministry and the RHA were given until 4 pm on Tuesday, to respond.

Hours before the deadline, attorney Brent James, from the Chief State Solicitor’s office, wrote to Ramkissoon asking for additional time to provide the response. James said the State had retained Vanessa Gopaul to lead himself and Fazana Ali. However, James said they were only assigned the matter on Monday afternoon.

James said they have since received certain instructions from the minister and were waiting instructions from the chairman of the NCRHA.

He said they would need more time to get and finalise instructions to provide a substantive response and asked to do so by 4 pm on Friday.

“In the circumstances, we kindly ask that you hold your hands from initiating high court proceedings in this matter as the proposed defendants’ response will be forthcoming within a reasonably short period of time.”

However, Ramkissoon informed James that the matter was “extremely urgent because it has direct implications for the life, health and well-being” of their client and other similarly circumstanced members of the public.

He said they were only prepared to give a 48-hour extension, which is 4 pm on July 27.

“Our client is not happy with the tardy response and deprecates the unexplained delay in assigning attorneys to deal with this matter.”

Ramkissoon said when the pre-action was sent last Thursday, the ministry acknowledged receipt the next day.

Lead attorney for the couple, Anand Ramlogan, SC. - FILE PHOTO

“Given the nature of the issues raised and the life-threatening implications for our client and other persons in this invidious situation, one would have thought that this matter would have been given the priority it obviously warrants and deserves.”

Ramkissoon raised suggestions made by retired judge, Stanley John, who was hired to conduct a comprehensive review of the policy, practice and procedure for dealing with the case management of claims filed against the State.

“Although this report was never disclosed to the public, our client hopes that it would have, in some way, led to a more efficient assignment and management of cases. Sadly, it is clear that this has not happened.

“There is no good reason as to why, in the age of the internet and modern technology, attorneys were not immediately assigned to deal with this matter, and the pre-action letter forwarded by a simple email. The delay has placed our client’s health and life in jeopardy…”

Ramkissoon suggested the State’s attorneys set up a virtual meeting with their clients to get their instructions.

“Please note that should this matter not be amicably resolved by then, we have been instructed to institute legal proceedings on behalf of our client without further notice.”

Nanan, 53, of Rousillac, wants the court to allow his 29-year-old Venezuelan wife, Yolanda Maria Garcia Rodriguez, to donate one of her kidneys to save his life.

He was diagnosed with renal failure in August 2018 and attended the renal clinic at the San Fernando General Hospital until the pandemic when he started going to the renal clinic at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex in Mt Hope.

In November 2022, Nanan was told by a doctor from the renal clinic that he was a candidate for a kidney transplant.

In May, he visited the transplant unit with his wife who was willing to donate one of her kidneys but was told of the policy.

However, the pre-action letter said the published policy on the ministry’s website on organ transplants made no provision for the nationality or residence of a potential donor.

It said the only applicable criteria are having a compatible blood group with the recipient and having been medically cleared to be a donor.

Nanan claims he was told if he could find a donor who was a citizen of TT, he could return and his entry into the transplant programme would be facilitated.

The letter also accused the ministry and the NCRHA of applying improper considerations and discrimination by refusing to properly consider Rodriguez as a valid donor candidate because of her nationality and residency status.

Nanan said this decision deprived him of accessing lifesaving treatment without justification.


"Lawsuit over kidney transplant – Ministry, NCRHA get new extension"

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