The family of a man on Montreal's West Island who is suffering liver failure says he is being denied the chance of a life-saving liver transplant.

Daljinder Nahar is ineligible for a transplant from the donor list because of his history of alcohol addiction. Despite having family and friends step up to offer a donation, doctors are saying no.

Nahar's family doesn't know how much time he has left, as the 43-year-old's liver is failing.

"He suffered from severe depression from the beginning. He only drank at nighttime, alone in his room, to help him sleep. And slowly, he got to the point where it was too much," said Nahar's brother, Kiranpal Nahar.

For that reason, Daljinder was refused a liver from the transplant list. Medical guidelines dictate six months of sobriety before someone can receive a liver.

"We are not looking for deceased donor programs. I understand what the doctors are saying in terms of organs are scarce," his brother said. "But we are willing to give from our own family."

Daljinder Nahar

With family ready to donate parts of their livers, his doctors at the Lakeshore General Hospital have put in requests. But the family said the Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CHUM) has turned them down, leaving them feeling further let down by the health-care system.

"I'm not sure why they can't help him, especially since this was due to a mental health condition that kind of went under the radar. He [sought] help but didn't receive any help. He was still waiting for his sponsor this whole time and never received … a therapist to follow him. He finally got a family doctor, which took a while," Kiranpal said.

"I feel like the system kind of failed us."

With Daljinder's life on the line, they haven't ruled out legal action.

The decision to deny a transplant from a willing family member lacks justification, according to lawyer Patrick Martin-Ménard.

"We're not talking here about deceased donors, we're talking about living donors; family members stepping in to save their loved ones. Otherwise, they will not donate their liver. So this is not depriving anyone the chance of receiving a liver," the lawyer said.


However, medical ethicists said such decisions aren't so cut and dry.

"These are grey zones," said Dr. Eugene Bereza, a family physician and bioethicist.

"People might have the impression this is black or white. 'Oh, I want it, he can do it, we need it, it's available, do it.' We wish it were that simple but that's such a far cry from the reality of how complex it is," Bereza said.

But for the family, it's a much simpler decision.

"I'd do anything, he's my only brother," Kiranpal said.

CTV News reached out to the CHUM, but they said they won't comment on the case or on their liver transplant policy.