Four-month-old Iranian baby gets emergency waiver for heart surgery

PHOTO: SAM TAGHIZADEH

NEW YORK • A four-month-old Iranian girl with a life-threatening heart condition will be allowed to receive treatment in the United States after she and her family received an emergency waiver for US President Donald Trump's 90-day travel ban on Iranian citizens.

"This evening we were pleased to learn that the federal government has now granted Fatemeh Reshad and her family boarding documents to come to the United States," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement late last Friday, The Guardian reported.

He said that a team of paediatric cardiac doctors at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York had agreed to help the family pro bono, and a law firm was funding the travel.

"Bizarrely, the federal ban would prevent this child from receiving medical care and literally endanger her life," Mr Cuomo said.

"It is repugnant to all we believe, as Americans and as members of the human family."

A BABY, 'NOT A TERRORIST'

This is Fatemeh. She is not a terrorist. She's a four-month-old baby girl who is in immediate need of open heart surgery.

US REPRESENTATIVE SUZANNE BONAMICI, appealing to the House of Representatives on the case of Fatemeh Reshad.

The infant has two holes in her heart and a twisted artery which requires immediate surgery.

Earlier on Friday, an attorney for the family, Ms Amber Murray, said the diagnosis had convinced her parents to seek treatment in the US.

"In Iran, there's a 20 to 30 per cent chance of success with surgery," Ms Murray said, according to The Guardian.

"And here there's a 97 per cent chance of success."

Fatemeh's uncle and grandparents are US citizens living in Oregon, so the family decided to travel to the US for an emergency surgical consultation.

They hoped the surgery would soon follow.

The family spent weeks preparing the paperwork for tourist visas for medical purposes, and travelled to Dubai to attend an interview at the US Embassy in late January.

Then came Mr Trump's order banning travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries. The embassy cancelled the appointment, leaving the family in shock.

On Friday, Representative Suzanne Bonamici, a Democrat from Oregon, took Fatemeh's case to the floor of the House of Representatives and condemned Mr Trump's order as she gestured at a photo of the infant.

"This is Fatemeh. She is not a terrorist. She's a four-month-old baby girl who is in immediate need of open heart surgery," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 05, 2017, with the headline 'Four-month-old Iranian baby gets emergency waiver for heart surgery'. Print Edition | Subscribe