HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. - A local woman is up against a deadline that could forever change her future.
Her boyfriend, Tom Alexander, suddenly died Sunday morning, and now there's a battle involving his personal wishes and a local hospital's protocol.
The Highlands Ranch family says they only have 6 to 10 hours to find a solution.
At the heart of this struggle is the lack of legal end-of-life paperwork for Alexander. As a result, his partner says she may be left without the ability to grow the family that she and her boyfriend long talked about.
“Tom was amazing. He was always so generous and loved me so much and always made sure that I knew that. He took such good care of me,” said Kate Criswell, Tom’s girlfriend. “All my text messages say just that I’m the love of his life, when he came out of sedation it was constantly 'I love you so much.'”
Criswell said she and Alexander had been together for seven years and were planning an engagement the night he fell ill after a hike in the mountains.
Criswell said Alexander was quickly hospitalized at St. Anthony’s, where he nearly died from heart complications.
After having a pacemaker installed, Criswell said Alexander was given a new lease on life.
“He was so thankful. He was so thankful to all the doctors and nurses that have saved him,” said Criswell.
But at 4 a.m. Sunday morning, Alexander suddenly died in the hospital before he could be released, Criswell said.
His death has since started a legal stalemate between the hospital and Alexander's surviving family.
Criswell said a text message from Alexander spelled out their desire to start a family after the two thought they were pregnant in February.
Now, Criswell and Alexander’s surviving family are all pleading with the hospital or any other doctors to help extract his semen so it can be frozen.
“We definitely stand behind it. I think he would say he wants whatever Kate wants and whatever would make her happy," said Illa Alexander, Tom’s mother.
However, a hospital spokesperson says Alexander didn't have a living will, medical power of attorney or medical directives drawn up.
They say without his consent, doctors can't perform any medical procedures.
For the specimen to be viable, Criswell said it must be harvested within 24 to 30 hours of his death.
The hospital spokesperson says this is a tragic reminder that regardless of your age, end-of-life plans must be prepared ahead of time.
The hospital says finding a doctor to perform the procedure is nearly impossible because HIPAA laws prevent any medical procedures from being performed without patient consent.