Vietnamese Men Denied U.S. Visas to Go Donate Bone Marrow to Dying Brother in San Jose

tu le

Two Vietnamese brothers were denied temporary U.S. visas necessary for them to donate bone marrow to their dying brother living in San Jose.

Tu Le, 63, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of blood cancer in January 2018 called Myelodysplastic syndrome. The father of four immigrated to the U.S. in 1992 and has since become a U.S. citizen; he desperately requires a bone marrow transplant as soon as possible in order to survive.

Le was unable to find a match on the donor list and soon turned to his relatives in Vietnam with the help of Stanford Health Care who sent donor test kits to his family members abroad.

While it is very rare and highly unlikely to find a perfect match, two of Le’s brothers came back as a 100% genetic match. A Stanford doctor taking care of Le even stated how critical this transplant would be to his patient’s survival in a letter addressed to the U.S. government. Without this transplant, Le’s cancer could advance at an alarming rate, leaving him with just weeks to live.

In a desperate attempt to save Le, his family has attempted reaching out to Sen. Kamala Harris and Rep. Zoe Lofgren. Since then, Harris has stepped forward stating that she will be requesting help from the State Department to obtain temporary travel visas for the two men. Lofgren has also told the SF Chronicle, “My office is currently working with Tu and his family to help however we can.”

The brothers, Lam Le and Hiep Nguyen, both currently living in Vietnam, applied for B-2 tourist visas citing a medical emergency. However, they were shortly notified by a U.S. consulate immigration official in Vietnam that neither of them qualified without further explanation or documentation.

Le’s 33-year-old daughter Trinh Colisao believes the government’s decision to reject the visa applications is connected to today’s political climate. She told the SF Chronicle, “I feel like the current political climate that we’re in is not very supportive of people from those countries visiting the U.S., even for humanitarian reasons.”

In a second attempt to save their brother, Le and Nguyen plan to apply for humanitarian parole, which is meant to be “an extraordinary measure sparingly used” to allow an individual to enter the U.S. temporarily in the case of an emergency.

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