The tragedy that shaped Jasjeet Kaur-Passi’s life for nine years turned out to be the inspiration for her to reach out with compassion to others experiencing similar circumstances.
All the equipment and supplies that Kaur-Passi used to care for her late husband in their Tracy home — essentially converting a bedroom into a hospital room — went to Eric’s Vision, a local charity that serves people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also called Lou Gehrig’s disease.
In June 2010, her husband, Anudeep Passi, then 26, was in a drowning accident that left him in a coma. They had been married for just nine months, and within two weeks she would give birth to their son, Gobind, who came into the world while his father was comatose in the hospital.
Passi was moved home after three months in the hospital. He never emerged from the coma, but his family set up his bedroom so that his wife could continue to care for him. Eventually the family connected with Tracy Albee, owner of MediLegal in Tracy, which specializes in nursing case management. Albee became Passi’s case manager and the family was able to hire nurses so that he could have around-the-clock care.
Kaur-Passi soon found herself with big medical bills and continual expenses to buy equipment and supplies for her husband.
“We didn’t have any insurance. His insurance was gone three months after his accident, so there was a time when I couldn’t even buy formula for him, so people would donate stuff,” she said.
The family managed to keep up with the expenses until he died April 12 of this year.
In the aftermath of losing her husband, Kaur-Passi eventually had to decide what to do with a bedroom full of equipment and supplies, including a hospital bed, a wheelchair and a walk-in closet full of supplies.
“I wanted to make a donation because everything I got for my husband, I wanted to get the best for him: his bed, his wheelchair, his shower chair, everything,” she said. “Now, since he has passed, I want his stuff to be used by somebody, instead of just not going anywhere.
“I understand the hardship when somebody gets 100 percent disabled,” she added. “It’s very expensive. Now I have everything. I have formula, I have a hospital bed. I have special mattresses for him, which we could use to change his position.”
She also has a converted van, fitted to carry a person in a wheelchair, and she plans to donate that as well. She said Albee referred her to Eric’s Vision.
The chief visionary officer of Eric’s Vision, Shonta Scoggins, founded the charity in honor of her late husband, former San Francisco 49er Eric Scoggins, who died from ALS. She estimated that Kaur-Passi’s donation would amount to about $75,000.
Scoggins said that the supplies will be put to use right away. Her group is working with four people who have ALS, which is a progressive and fatal degenerative disease that attacks motor neurons — cells that control the muscles — and eventually leaves people immobile.
Eric’s Vision board member Steve Abercrombie and 10 volunteers dropped by Kaur-Passi’s home on Saturday and filled a trailer with equipment and supplies. Scoggins will pick up the van next week.
“Once I get the van, I’m going to turn it over to one of the families that doesn’t have transportation,” Scoggins said.
Kaur-Passi said that the donation was the least she could do in honor of her husband’s generous spirit.
“He has inspired me to do something for him every year, so that he gets blessings, to help someone every year. I want to continue to do that,” she said. “He was always like that. Whoever was in need, he wanted to help that person, either financially or just with a helping hand. He was very kind.”