Pushing to bring formerly imprisoned Iranian activist to Canada for life-saving transplant

Elham Modarresi, 33, an Iranian artist, went from protesting against authoritarian rule on the streets of Tehran to fighting for her life in a Turkish hospital while suffering from liver failure.

Modarresi was imprisoned for three months in November 2022 after participating in the Women, Life, Freedom movement that shook Iran in 2022, following the death in custody of Mahsa Jina Amini.

After her release, she fled to Turkey, where she is now seeking asylum. But during his imprisonment, he was denied medication for a genetic liver disease.

A healthy Elham Modarresi before her liver started to shut down.

Nahid Modarresi

Elham Modarresi is currently hospitalized in Turkey, where she is being treated for liver failure.

Nahid Modarresi

His sister Nahid Modarresi is now calling for help.

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“Please help save my sister’s life,” she told Global News via video chat from an undisclosed location in Turkey. Global News cannot reveal the exact location for its security.

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“We don’t know what we’re doing. Please help my sister. Please. Canada. Young people, please save my sister,” she said.

Iranian-Canadian human rights activists band together to save Elham’s life and sponsor her to come to Canada to receive a life-saving transplant, which would be almost impossible to obtain in Turkey .

Nahid suffers from an autoimmune disease and cannot donate his liver, but according to activist Nazanin Afshin-Jam, several volunteers are willing to donate to Canada.

“We identified different liver donors willing to donate part of their livers to him,” Afshin-Jam said.

British Columbia resident Tara, who Global News agreed to identify by her first name for her safety, said Elham was a hero to her and many others. Tara is also working with Afshin-Jam and other activists to get the transplant Elham needs to live.

Elham Modarresi was denied access to a vital medicine for a genetic liver disease while imprisoned in Iran for participating in anti-regime protests.

Elham Modarresi was denied access to a vital medicine for a genetic liver disease while imprisoned in Iran for participating in anti-regime protests.

Nahid Modarresi

“Elham is a courageous Iranian who stood up against oppression,” she said.

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Her fellow activist, Reina Rezaie, launched a GoFundMe campaign to help with Elham’s ongoing medical bills.

Tara and Afhsin-Jam say they both feel a sense of duty to help someone who fought for freedom in their home country.

They contacted Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada to apply for an emergency temporary residence visa so Elham could receive the procedure here.

“When the Department of Immigration office heard about a particular case and that it was very urgent, they said they would report him and review his entire file in an expedited manner,” he said. Afshin-Jam said.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada declined to comment on the matter, citing confidentiality concerns.

Supporters hope to bring Elham Modarresi to Canada so she can undergo a life-saving liver transplant.

Nahid Modarresi

Nahid said that if the operation was not carried out, his sister could fall into a coma.

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While the documents allowing him to come to Canada are in the system, Elham’s own system is shutting down and his time is running out.

“I feel so close to Elham because I consider her a freedom fighter in Iran,” Afshin-Jam said.

“She had the courage to come out and now she needs our help.

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