Montreal hospital gives immigrant with terminal cancer a dying wish

Kirandeep Kaur and her husband left their families in India for the promise of a better life in Canada. She, however, got some horrible news in December when cancer returned. (Submitted photo)

Kirandeep Kaur and her husband came to Canada two years ago from India in search of a better life.

Last December, however, Kaur, who previously had ovarian cancer, began having abdominal pain.

“The cancer had come back, and not only had it come back, but it had come back with a vengeance,” said oncologist Dr. Sinziana Dumitra at the McGill University Health Centre.

Her medical team determined there was nothing more they could do, but Kaur had one wish: to go back home and die surrounded by family, even though Dumitra wasn't sure it was even possible.

“She basically told us she was going to leave the hospital no matter what even if she was going to die en route," she said.

Dumitra, an immigrant herself, was moved by the story, so she called on the MUHC Foundation.

The foundation's CEO, Julie Quenneville, was battling a fever caused by COVID-19 at the time and wasn't taking any calls, but she decided to take this one.

"I was so touched by the story. I was moved to tears and I thought we have to do something to help this young woman," she said. 

The foundation typically raises money for medical equipment and research, but Quenneville started thinking about donors who would be moved by the story.

“I phoned Mark and he immediately said we have to do something,” said Quenneville.

Mark Smith is a businessman and philathropist who said he felt compelled to help.

"I guess it was the human side, just imagining as a parent, as a father what her family was going through,” he said.

Smith enlisted the help of some other well-known philanthropists, Andre Desmarais and France Chretien, who funded the trip.

Smith personally drove Kaur to the airport while she was on an IV drip.

“If I hadn’t done it, what would they have done, put her in a taxi? Put her in an Uber? That’s not going to work, I thought, to get it done right. I’ll do it myself,” said Smith.

Kaur is now back in India receiving palliative care, with her dying wish granted by some generous Canadians. 

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