A pair of Vietnamese brothers can now travel to the U.S. to donate bone marrow for a third brother suffering from cancer.
Originally denied B-2 (tourist) visas, the siblings received help from several California politicians, who lobbied the State Department for a second chance to save their brother’s life in San Jose.
Tu Le, 63, was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) — a rare condition in which the body fails to produce healthy blood cells — and requires a bone marrow transplant to live.
Because doctors determined that his brothers, Lam Le and Hiep Nguyen, were 100% matches, the rejection of their visa applications took a toll on the family’s hope.
“We don’t know what to do. At this point we’re just hoping to get his story out,” Le’s 33-year-old son, Trinh Colisao, told the San Francisco Chronicle earlier this month.
Soon enough, Le’s plight reached Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), who then sent a joint congressional inquiry to the U.S. Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City stressing the medical urgency.
On Monday night, the State Department informed Harris and Lofgren that the brothers’ visas had been approved.
“I am pleased the Department of State has recognized the moral imperative to act, and that Tu Le will receive the urgent and life-saving care he needs,” Harris said. “My thoughts will be with Tu Le, his daughter Diem Trinh Colisao, and the rest of their family throughout the road ahead.”
A petition on Le’s behalf also gathered nearly 20,000 signatures as of this writing.
“I couldn’t be happier for Tu Le and his family,” Lofgren said in a statement. “Imagine knowing that a bone marrow transfer may be the only way to save your life; only to see your brothers, who are the bone marrow donors, denied the chance to come save you.”