A longtime nurse at Peace Arch Hospital has died from complications of COVID-19. She is the first nurse in B.C. to have succumbed to the virus.
Diana Law is being remembered as a dedicated, attentive patient-care co-ordinator at Peace Arch Hospital, who spent her life helping people in need.
“Diana was committed to the care of her patients and the well-being of her colleagues. She was a very giving person – easy to talk to, and quick to step in where help was needed,” her obituary reads.
Law, 57, died on April 14.
She is survived by her children Sydney, 19, Alexander, 16, her mother Minlin, sister Sylvia and brother Michael.
Her husband, Glen Culshaw, was married to her for nearly 30 years. Culshaw and Law, who both attended high school at Queen Elizabeth Secondary, first met at a party in 1981.
“It was spinning out of control. The three of us were the only ones not doing anything wrong and she walked up and kicked us out,” Culshaw said.
“And we went, OK…. I said to my friend, ‘Do you know her?… I like her, feisty.’
“After that we met up and that was it.”
Asked what kind of person Law was, Culshaw said he’s been asked that question all day.
“We were just so used to being around each other that you don’t think of how to put it into words what kind of person they are. If you asked anybody she worked with, she was one of the most reliable people you could think of.”
Culshaw said said he noticed a change in his wife’s temperament around Christmas time.
“She wasn’t as happy as she would be, usually. So then I started pressuring her to go to the doctor.”
Thinking it was a reaction to the medication she was taking for a kidney transplant she had eight years ago, which is something that happened prior, they booked an appointment at the kidney clinic on New Year’s Eve.
In the hospital, staff checked her blood pressure and attempted to use a finger scanner to read her blood oxygen level, but couldn’t find a reading.
“Then they did her blood pressure, it was so low. I forget what the number was, but it was low. They basically said, ‘Wow, you’re lucky you brought her in.’”
Law was immediately transferred to the emergency room, but Culshaw wasn’t allowed inside the hospital due to COVID-19 concerns.
“A couple hours later, they phoned me and said that she’s not going home. She’s staying. And you need to go get tested because she tested positive.”
A few days later, Law was put on a ventilator. Doctors also put her on an ECMO machine, which filters blood to an artificial lung, adding oxygen and removing carbon dioxide. Law was also given blood thinners and steroids.
She eventually started to suffer abdominal bleeding, which needed to be repaired in the operating room.
Then, Curslaw said, she got blood clots in her hands and feet.
“Basically, when she died, if she had lived they would have had to cut off one of her hands and one of her feet, and toes and fingers from the other ones. Her kidneys had shut down, she was on constant dialyses, and her lungs were so scarred they didn’t know if she would ever get off a ventilator,” Curslaw said.
Shortly after her death, Law’s colleagues posted condolences to her family and shared memories of the nurse, who worked at PAH for more than 25 years.
“Worked with Diana. She was one of those people you just wanted to give a big squishy hug to (although she hated that). Always smiling, always looking out for everyone. One of the genuinely good people in this world,” Aliya K wrote on Twitter.
“Diana was a well loved PCC at PAH. She was the steady hand that steered the ship in any crisis. She was a quiet strength and everyone loved and respected her,” Sheila Rhodes wrote.
The BC Nurses’ Union posted a statement expressing great sadness over Law’s death.
“On behalf of the entire elected Council, know that this tragedy has affected the leadership of this union deeply. We have taken the unusual step to darken our website, to show our respect and convey our collective sorrow,” the statement read.
“The loss is a sombre reminder of the sacrifices that each of you are making during the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time of distress, sorrow, and reflection our union will not stop in our efforts to support nurses of BC.”
In her Monday press conference, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry confirmed Law was the first nurse in B.C. to die of COVID-19.
“It is a tragedy. It is something that affects all of us in the health care system when one of our own passes away,” Henry said.
In lieu of a memorial service, the family is asking people to consider registering as an organ donor, to donate to the B.C. Kidney Foundation, Diabetes Canada, UBC/VGH Hospital Foundation or the local food bank.