Farhan* is an older man who lives with his partner Paul. He was on the list for a heart transplant, which he urgently needed. Without it, he would have likely only had six months to live.
Farhan had experienced a long history of homophobia directed at him by his family. As a result of Farhan’s sexuality, he hadn’t spoken to his family in years. When he mentioned this to a social worker at Saint Vincent’s Hospital, she reached out to Justice Connect through our Health Justice Partnership. Farhan’s health worker recognised that Farhan urgently needed legal documents to ensure that if his health deteriorated, Farhan‘s partner Paul would be able to make decisions on his behalf instead of his biological family. With our legal help, Paul was granted a Power of Attorney and appointed as an Enduring Guardian with carefully defined authorities.
Unfortunately, right before he was due to have his transplant, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. As Farhan’s immunity was compromised due to his upcoming transplant, he was unable to leave his home and couldn’t execute these documents face to face. Thankfully, through our advocacy efforts, we had ensured that important documents such as Powers of Attorney and appointment of guardianship documentation could be executed and witnessed by a remote witness using digital channels. This ensured that people like Farhan could be empowered to execute these documents from the safety of their own home without requiring person–to–person contact.
After we drafted the documents for Farhan and Paul, we set up a time for Farhan to execute them and have the execution witnessed via a telehealth digital platform. Farhan was able to entrust his partner as his guardian and have peace of mind in the worst-case scenario.
The day after his documents were finalised, Farhan’s heart transplant was a success. He spent some time in ICU feeling “on top of the world”, before going back home with Paul to recover. Without digital witnessing during the COVID-19 pandemic and our approach of integrating legal services with our health-justice partners, Farhan wouldn’t have been empowered to use the law to ensure his preferences would be honoured and have peace of mind he needed during a stressful and uncertain time.