The widow of a Boston police officer who died due to complications from Hepatitis C more than a decade ago has been in a continuing battle for accidental death benefits that the state of Massachusetts has previously denied, according to WFXT-TV
Maura Shaw claims her husband, Officer Kenneth Shaw, contracted the disease while on the job before he died in 1998 after his body rejected a new liver.
The state, however, has repeatedly denied her application because she can't prove exactly how he came in contact with the disease.
"It's like a slap in the face," she told the news station. "He loved his job. He loved doing what he did."
After fighting for the benefits for 13 years, she says the wait has taken a financial and emotional toll on her.
"I ended up losing the house. I ended up pawning my diamond ring that he gave me. It's been hard."
She still lives in the home she purchased with her husband after a neighbor bought it at an auction and rented it back to her.
Officer Shaw's doctor from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center believed he contracted the illness on the job and even wrote: "His only risk factors were exposure to blood as a policeman at work. In particular, there was no history of intravenous drug use or blood product transfusion."
The Boston Retirement Board had another doctor review Shaw's case after the application was submitted.
That doctor agreed with the first doctor and wrote: "It is my opinion that the death of Officer Shaw was the consequence of a hazard undergone in the performance of his duties as a Boston police officer."
While the retirement board approved the application for benefits in 2001, the state would not sign off on it.
According to the Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission, there was not substantial evidence to support the claim.
After hearing of the widow's struggle, the Boston Police Department released a statement saying it was sadden by her struggles.
"Officer Kenneth Shaw is fondly remembered as a hard worker and valuable member of our department," the statement reads. "We fully support Mrs. Shaw in her efforts to secure the benefits to which we believe she is entitled."