As a result of President Donald Trump’s executive order, which temporarily ends the refugee resettlement program and bans immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries, a four-month-old Iranian girl was forced to miss a critical heart procedure.
Before President Trump’s travel ban was implemented, Fatemah and her family were scheduled to fly to Oregon for the surgery, which would take place at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU). The family had completed all the paperwork necessary for tourist visas and should have been able to make their journey without any problems. Unfortunately, the trip did not go as planned.
Sam Taghizadeh, Fatemah’s uncle, told KPTV, a local Oregon news station, that Fatemah needs the surgery that was delayed “as soon as possible.”
Taghizadeh, who helped fund the trip, also explained that Fatemah’s parents chose to bring her to the U.S. for the procedure so that she would be able to receive the highest quality of medical care. According to Taghizadeh, in Iran, the surgery is considered “a very high risk because that is open heart surgery.”
The family had followed all the rules and thought that everything was in place for the procedure. Taghizadeh explained that a lot of paperwork was required before Fatemah and her family were cleared to travel.
‘Everything was okay. They asked for a lot of paperwork. She got the appointment, February 5 in the morning.
‘For getting the visa, they ask for lot of the paperwork. You have to do many things, you know. For three weeks we working for every single thing they wanted.’
When the family landed in Dubai, though, where they had to apply for a tourist visa at a U.S. consulate, they were told that the remainder of their trip had been canceled due to Trump’s order. Fatemah’s family had no choice but to turn around and go back to Iran.
‘All the paper, everything was ready, and just in the last minute they canceled everything.’
According to the executive order, the ban on immigration will be in place for three months. If and when the ban is lifted, it’s unclear whether or not Fatemah will be able to get the surgery she needs before it is too late.
Taghizadeh emphasized the fact that Fatemah’s doctors do not want to wait to perform the surgery:
‘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.
‘It’s like a nightmare. You know, in the one night everything changes. Now you don’t know what you’re going to do.’
Taghizadeh also said that he does not feel safe in the U.S. after Trump’s latest order was put into effect. He was originally willing to give the new president a chance, but things have changed now that his niece’s life has been put in danger by Trump’s policy. Taghizadeh explained:
Why we came to U.S., we came here for freedom. For a better life. I’m feeling nowhere is safe.’