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‘A big relief’: $2K medical bill waived for man who helped break up Vancouver robbery

Click to play video: 'Global viewers offer to help Good Samaritan with medical costs'
Global viewers offer to help Good Samaritan with medical costs
Global viewers are stepping up with offers to help a Good Samaritan who was seriously injured while chasing down a thief - and who was then handed a nearly $2,000 hospital bill for his treatment. Kristen Robinson reports – Apr 16, 2024

A newcomer to Canada who was stabbed while intervening to stop a robbery in Vancouver last year is breathing a sigh of relief, after being told he won’t have to pay for his medical treatment after all.

DoorDash food delivery worker Meraj Ahmed and another delivery worker both suffered knife wounds in the attack on Boxing Day in the Olympic Village.

The thief, Sheldon Ilbegi-Asli, had arranged to buy a computer graphics card from someone through Facebook Marketplace, but instead attacked the seller with pepper spray and fled. He stabbed the two workers when they intervened to stop him.

Click to play video: 'Vancouver Boxing Day attacker pleads guilty to charges'
Vancouver Boxing Day attacker pleads guilty to charges

Ahmed’s reward for his heroism? A medical bill of nearly $2,000, including emergency fees and surgery to repair a severed tendon in his left hand.

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An international student from Bangladesh, Ahmed did not have MSP coverage at the time of the attack. He’s also been unable to work delivering food because he still can’t lift or grab anything with his left hand.

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“It’s a very crisis moment for me. It’s a mental crisis for me because I could not work for almost three months so it was tough for me to pay the bill,” he told Global News on Monday.

On Tuesday, Global News asked Premier David Eby about the case.

Eby said the medical billing system is designed to ensure that costs incurred by Canadians from out of province are covered by their home health insurance system, but acknowledged in Ahmed’s case it felt “very unfair.”

“Providing that kind of flexibility in the system is challenging but important and we will continue to look at ways that our health-care system responds in a way that the reasonable expectations of British Columbians that when someone acts in a heroic way in our province as a new arrival that they’re supported,” Eby said.

Click to play video: 'New information about suspect in Vancouver Olympic Village stabbing'
New information about suspect in Vancouver Olympic Village stabbing

Not long afterward, Ahmed got a call from Vancouver Coastal Health telling him he wouldn’t have to pay the bill.

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“It’s a big relief for me that they considered my situation and helped me,” he said in a Tuesday interview.

“They told me in the mail that I had to pay the bill otherwise it would go to the collection agency, so it was … something like I was tense about that because it may affect my migration status.”

Click to play video: 'Man charged in Boxing Day stabbing appears in court'
Man charged in Boxing Day stabbing appears in court

Health Minister Adrian Dix confirmed the province had made arrangements to ensure Ahmed wouldn’t be on the hook for his treatment.

Following Global News’ coverage of Ahmed’s case on Monday, numerous generous viewers also came forward with offers to help cover his medical bills if the province didn’t step up.

One anonymous donor cut him a $2,000 cheque anyway to help Ahmed with his recovery.

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“I want to thank all of them who wanted to help me in this situation,” Ahmed said.

Ilbegi-Asli, meanwhile, pleaded guilty to theft under $5,000 and two counts of assault with a weapon on Monday.

His lawyer is currently seeking to have a psychiatric assessment conducted for his client ahead of sentencing.

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