PORTLAND, Ore. — A 4-month-old girl with a heart condition was supposed to fly in for an appointment for a surgical consultation at an Oregon hospital next week, but she and her family were not able to finish their trip because of President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration.
Fatemah and her family do not have permission to come into the United States even though they filled out the paperwork for tourist visas for the surgery, and even though her grandparents and uncle are American citizens, KPTV reports.
“She needs the surgery as soon as possible,” said Sam Taghizadeh, Fatemah’s uncle.
Fatemah has a very serious heart condition. Concerned about the quality of medical services in her birth country of Iran, Fatemah's family decided they did not want her to have surgery there.
"Over there it's a very high risk because that is open heart surgery," said Taghizadeh.
So the family chose to bring Fatemah to OHSU for what they believe will be a much higher quality surgery and to be closer to family members who live in Oregon.
"Everything was okay. They asked for a lot of paperwork. She got the appointment, February 5 in the morning," Taghizadeh said.
With everything set, the family boarded a plane and headed to Dubai where they had an appointment at a U.S. consulate to apply for a tourist visa.
"For getting the visa, they ask for a lot of the paperwork. You have to do many things, you know. For three weeks we working for every single thing they wanted," said Taghizadeh.
But then, when they landed in Dubai Saturday, they heard about President Trump's executive order and were told they couldn't finish their trip.
"All the paper, everything was ready, and just in the last minute they canceled everything," Taghizadeh said.
Taghizadeh has lived in the U.S. for 13 years. He said he worked with his family and even helped fund the trip, which is now not going to happen.
"Half an hour, even they took the appointment out. I send an email, I tried calling them, nobody answered. But now she's stuck. Even she doesn't know what she's going to do," said Taghizadeh.
But Fatemah's doctor said she needs the surgery soon.
"They cannot wait, you know. Even I asked, can they wait a couple other years? They said no. This thing has to be as soon as possible," said Taghizadeh.
Now, Fatemah's family doesn't know what they're going to do and Taghizadeh said he can't believe their plans could unravel so quickly.
"It's like a nightmare. You know, in the one night everything changes. Now you don't know what you're going to do," said Taghizadeh.
And while Taghizadeh said he was willing to give President Trump a chance, now he's afraid for his niece's future, as well as his own.
"Why we came to U.S., we came here for freedom. For a better life. I'm feeling nowhere is safe," Taghizadeh said.
Fatemah and her family left Dubai and are they are now back in Iran.
OHSU said Wednesday that they have not canceled any scheduled surgeries or procedures at any facility due to a patient's immigration status. Officials there say they cannot comment on any specific patient's case due to HIPPA regulations but added that no patients would be turned away because of the travel ban.