“This is the saddest photo I’ve ever taken in my life.”
That’s how Ashley Baryk describes the photo she took of her grandparents to tell the world about the elderly couple’s drama. The image, posted on Facebook, was immediately shared thousands of times and made news around the world.
In the photo, a man in a wheelchair and a woman with an orthopedic walker sit opposite each other and dry their tears with cloth wipes.
Wolfram Gottshalk, 83, and his wife Anita, 81, have been married for more than six decades. Despite this, they have been forced to live separately due to what the family considers to be an inefficiency of the Canadian public health system.
Anita resides in a seniors’ residence in the city of Surrey in the province of British Columbia in western Canada.
Her husband, who was recently diagnosed with lymphoma – a cancer of the lymphatic system – is in another residence waiting on the waiting list to be transferred to the woman he lived with for more than six decades.
Baryik, 29, shared a photo of his grandparents – Omi and Opi, as he calls them – to draw attention to what the family described as “delays and delays in the country’s public health system.” country “.
“They cry every time they see each other”
Ashley says her grandparents were first separated in January, when Wolfram Gottschalk was hospitalized with a heart problem. After the incident, it was recommended that he be taken to a nursing home.
While Wolfram waited for a place in a senior center, his wife Anita applied to join the public assisted living system so she could join her husband.
Authorities quickly found a place for Anita, but after eight months, her husband continues to live in a halfway house and is on the waiting list for a place in his wife’s residence.
The granddaughter said she decided to seek help through social media because her grandfather’s diagnosis “gave a new sense of urgency to the need to reunite the couple.”
“It’s heartbreaking for my grandmother, who wants to be by her husband’s side every day,” Ashley said.
“They cry every time they see each other, and the process has been emotionally draining for them.”
Health officials in Fraser, the jurisdiction where the Gottschalks live, told the AP they are trying to keep the families together but say Wolfram’s medical needs are greater than Anita’s.
A representative from the charity contacted the couple on Thursday, saying that providing Wolfram with a bed was now their “number one priority”.
“It’s very sad for the family and for us as well,” said Fraser spokeswoman Tasleem Juma.
After the image was posted on Facebook, donations were offered to take the couple to a private residence. But the offers were declined because the couple believes in the principle that their example serves to push for changes in the health care system.
“Accepting money in our case would not solve the problem for all the other families who cannot afford a private residence,” Ashley said.
“We want a way out to improve the system, not raise money to find a happy ending to one case, which is symptomatic of a much larger problem.”
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