Iranian infant due in Portland for life-saving heart surgery

NY governor says waiver to order granted

PORTLAND, Ore. - A 4-month-old Iranian girl and her family will be coming to Portland so she can have life-saving heart surgery.

"The family is overwhelmingly relieved and thrilled," said attorney Jennifer Morrissey, KGW reported Saturday.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Friday announced in a statement Friday night that Fatemah Reshad and her family had been granted a waiver by the federal government.

"This evening we were pleased to learn that the federal government has now granted Fatemah Reshad and her family boarding documents to come to the United States," Cuomo's statement said. "We will continue to work with the International Refugee Assistance Project and their partners to ensure this baby receives the treatment she needs, and fight for those being unfairly shut out of America's gates by this policy. "

Despite an offer from a New York hospital to pay for all of the medical costs related to Fatemah's treatment, Fatemah and her family will come to Portland for treatment at Oregon Health & Science University's Doernbecher Children's Hospital, which will also cover most of the family's medical costs.

"Having a family nearby to give aid and comfort to a child, we believe is important," Dr. Braner with OHSU said during a news conference on Saturday. "No public funds will go toward the child's care."

Fatemah's uncle and grandparents are U.S. citizens living in Oregon. She was going to come to Portland for an appointment prior to President Donald Trump's executive order banning immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries. Following the ban, the family was turned away and returned to Iran.

Fatemah has a rare congenital heart disease that affects 2 out of 10,000 newborns, doctors said. Despite the condition being so rare, doctors said there is a treatment available that is very successful.

Morrissey said she expects Fatemah and her family to be in Portland in the next several days. Doctors stressed it was important for her to get to Portland as soon as possible, as most children with Fatemah's condition in the US get treatment during their first week of life.

"This is a fatal condition without treatment," said Dr. Armsby with OHSU. "The sooner she gets here, the better. Truthfully, I think the delay of a few days or a week is something we can manage."

Fatemah's story garnered nationwide attention after several Oregon lawmakers shared Fatemah's situation, including Gov. Kate Brown and Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden.

"Banning a 4-month-old child from a pediatric heart surgeon does nothing to safeguard our nation. Such cruelty runs counter to core American values. And it slams shut America’s centuries-old legacy as a place of shelter for people of all ages," Wyden said in a statement Friday night.

Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore., shared Fatemah's story on the House floor Friday morning, prior to her being granted a waiver.

“This is Fatemah. She is not a terrorist. She’s a four-month-old baby girl who is in immediate need of open-heart surgery. Her parents desperately want the best care for her, so they planned to bring her from their home in Iran to Portland, Oregon, to one of the best hospitals for pediatric heart surgery. That’s where Fatemah’s uncle and grandparents all live – they are US citizens," Bonamici said.

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