Iranian baby gets waiver to come to U.S. for surgery

The 4-month-old needs surgery she can't get in Iran

Four-month-old Fatemah Reshad was supposed to come to the United States for open heart surgery before the immigration ban prevented her from coming from Iran. (Courtesy of Sam Taghizadeh)
Four-month-old Fatemah Reshad was supposed to come to the United States for open heart surgery before the immigration ban prevented her from coming from Iran. (Courtesy of Sam Taghizadeh)


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Donald Trump’s ban on immigration from 7 Muslim majority counties has prevented even refugees and visitors with approved visas from entering the United States.

Four-month-old Fatemeh Reshad was all set to travel to the U.S. from Iran with her mother to have an operation that will save her life.

That was until Trump’s executive order banned immigrants like them from entering the country.

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Fatemeh’s uncle Sam Taghizadeh, a U.S. citizen, says everything changed for his sister and her baby in one night.

Four-month-old Fatemeh Reshad was supposed to come to the United States for open heart surgery before the immigration ban prevented her from coming from Iran. (Courtesy of Sam Taghizadeh)
Four-month-old Fatemeh Reshad was supposed to come to the United States for open heart surgery before the immigration ban prevented her from coming from Iran. (Courtesy of Sam Taghizadeh)

“It was very hard because she got the hope to come to [the] U.S., bring the baby here,” he said.

He said his family did everything by the book, including obtaining a temporary visa through the U.S. embassy in Dubai (there is no embassy in Iran).

“We got the hotel, the airplane tickets, everything was ready,” Taghizadeh said.

Because Fatemeh was born in Iran, the visa and all endorsed documents disappeared overnight on January 27.

“The next day, I check the site, everything is gone,” Taghizadeh said. “They sent the email saying everything is cancelled and they took the appointment out and we are stuck.”

Taghizadeh said even though he us a citizen, Trump’s actions against immigrants make him feel like he’s not.

“Because we’re born in Iran, it’s like he ignores me as a citizen,” Taghizadeh said. “My niece is 4-months-old coming to here for surgery, you’re scared of her?” Taghizadeh said. “What’s she going to do? Is she dangerous?”

The hospitals in Iran don’t have the proper equipment to operate on Fatemeh. According to Oregon lawmakers who confirmed the situation, Fatemeh’s condition has been reviewed by doctors at hospitals across the U.S. who agree that if she doesn’t get surgery soon, she’ll die.

“The problem now here is the time,” Taghizadeh said. “If they going to make it for long time, maybe one month, we’re going to lose that baby.”

Taghizadeh has all the medical documents regarding the baby’s condition and sent them to doctors in New York and OHSU. He said they would have the surgery at any hospital they could in the U.S. Pediatric cardiologists at OHSU have offered to treat her.

The hospital tweeted Friday that “OHSU stands ready and willing to care for this child if she is able to be admitted to the U.S.”

Oregon Governor Kate Brown is fighting the White House and hopes in doing so, will save the young girl’s life.

Sam Taghizadeh hoped his sister and her baby could come to the U.S. for a life-saving surgery for the baby. (KOIN)
Sam Taghizadeh hoped his sister and her baby could come to the U.S. for a life-saving surgery for the baby. (KOIN)

“I find it deplorable that an infant who was supposed to come to Oregon to receive much needed life-saving care was not able to access that care,” Brown said.

“Fatemeh’s life is in peril and, if she does not soon have corrective surgeries, she will die,” they wrote.

New York Governor Andrew has been granted a waiver to allow Fatemeh and her family entry to the country.  Cuomo worked with the International Refugee Assistance Project to make it happen.

The pediatric cardiologists at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York have offered to treat the girl for free.

Before Cuomo’s request was granted, Oregon lawmakers also sent a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Friday asking for a waiver to allow Fatemeh’s family to come to the U.S. 

The letter went on to say: “Granting her family’s request to travel to the U.S. is not only the moral and humanitarian decision, but would signal to Iran and the rest of the world that, even in the face of highly strained diplomatic relations, the United States offers help to those suffering tragic circumstances.”

The letter was signed by Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden and Congress representatives Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici, Peter DeFazio and Kurt Shrader.

Now that the path has been cleared for Fatemeh to get to the United States, her family is deciding whether to go to New York or Portland for the surgery.

“We hope they can make it to OHSU because we are here, we can help, I can help my sister,” Taghizadeh said.

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