A stem cell donor who was set to help save a dying Orange County, California mother from leukemia was barred from entering the United States.
Helen Huynh is a Vietnamese mother living with her family in Garden Grove, California, where doctors at UCI Medical Center believe that the best way to treat Helen is through stem-cell therapy.
The mother of three was first diagnosed with the most aggressive form of leukemia on Feb. 14, 2017.
Finding a match, unfortunately, was extremely difficult for the doctors. Luckily, the hospital found a 100% match for Helen — her sister, Thuy, who lives in Vietnam.
“We were very happy. My mom was ecstatic. The doctors were very happy because it’s very hard to find a match, and especially a 100 percent match,” one of Helen’s daughters, Sharon Adams, told ABC7.
The only way to save Helen’s life and treat her cancer is to bring Thuy to UCI Medical Center for the procedure. But unfortunately, the U.S. government has denied her request to enter the country even after three hospitals sent their letters to help the family.
“We have letters from the hospitals stating that she is a match and that she is coming to the U.S. to donate for the stem cell transplant. The letter from the City of Hope stated that they are requesting a medical emergency visa,” Sharon said.
All three requests were denied by the government. Thuy was willing to leave behind her money, the property she currently lives on in Vietnam, and her 5-year-old child to help save her sister’s life. But officials said that these reasons were not enough to “compel her to depart the U.S. at the end of her temporary stay.”
Thuy also went to the U.S. Embassy in Ho Chi Minh City for her visa interviews, but to no avail.
“The interviews were probably three minutes. They’re not even looking at the supporting documents or looking at our situation,” Sharon said about Thuy’s experience.
“My mom is like my best friend. It’s not very easy to see my best friend go through so much pain like this,” she continued. “Just to see her be on morphine and just lay there in and out of consciousness is very hard on our family.”
Yvonne Aivan Murray, Helen’s other daughter, couldn’t help but wonder if the same thing would happen to her family if they were of a different ethnicity.
“If we were an Italian-American or a Scottish-American, then our family member could just come on the plane and come here anytime. They could come and go to Disneyland if they wanted to,” she said.
Helen and her husband of 35 years, Vien, were invited to move to the U.S. in 1991 after he fought alongside the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.
Vien delivered pizza and newspapers, and offered to iron shirts for $0.15 each, while Helen collected recyclables. Together they built a happy family in California and supported three daughters: Yvonne, Sharon and Tiffany, who was diagnosed with Down syndrome.
“When I came here, I worked hard because I believe in my future. I believe in this country,” Vien said.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Helen.
Featured Image via GoFundMe