Govt backs down over visa for lifesaving trip

21 Oct 2016 | Posted by Carl Thomas

The Home Office has made a U-turn on its decision not to award a UK visa to a Nigerian woman who applied to come to the UK to donate bone marrow to save her sister’s life.

 
Martha was identified as a 10 out of 10 match for sister May Brown, who lives in Dorset with her husband Mike, a former soldier, and daughter Selina-May, two. Mrs Brown is suffering from acute myeloid leukaemia, and a bone marrow transplant is considered to be her best chance of survival.
 
Doctors at King’s College Hospital in London, who are treating Mrs Brown, said that “an extensive search” had been carried for another donor within the UK before they turned to her sister in Nigeria.
 
However, when Martha applied for a UK visa, she was rejected on the grounds that immigration authorities did not believe she was a genuine visitor or that she had the funds to make the journey, even though May had offered to pay for her visit.
 
Mrs Brown said her sister had no desire to remain in the UK. A petition in her support was signed by more than 60,000 people and the case was taken up by Mrs Brown’s MP Richard Drax.  She was also supported by the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust (ACLT).
 
Following the pressure, the Government has now agreed to grant a UK visa to Martha, to allow her to make the lifesaving trip.
 
Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill said: "I have carefully considered the case of May Brown and decided that her sister will be granted leave to enter the UK given the compassionate and exceptional circumstances."
 
Mrs Brown is currently in hospital undergoing chemotherapy while she awaits the bone marrow transplant from her sister.