Family En Route To Infant’s Life-Saving Surgery In U.S. Denied Entry

by Valerie Williams
Originally Published: 
Image via KPTV

Her doctors say the surgery can’t wait much longer

In the days since Donald Trump’s executive order banning refugees from several heavily Muslim countries, we’ve heard countless stories of people’s lives being thrown into total upheaval as a result. One such story involves a sick baby in need of surgery with the EO preventing her family from getting her the care she needs.

The order, enacted last Friday, calls for banning the entry of Syrian refugees indefinitely, all refugees for 120 days, and all citizens from seven predominately Muslim countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen) for 90 days. It’s caused a lot of disruption but no stories are quite as egregious as those involving children. In this case, it’s a four-month-old baby girl named Fatemah from Iran.


The infant has a heart condition requiring surgery and though her parents filed for the appropriate tourist visa, because of the ban, they’re now unable to travel to OSHU Hospital in Oregon for the procedure. According to KPTV, the child even has grandparents and an uncle who are United States citizens, but it no longer matters because of the ban.

The baby’s uncle, Sam Taghizadeh, says Fatemah needs the surgery “as soon as possible” and explains that the parents chose OSHU because of the quality of medical services in their native Iran not being as good. “Over there it’s a very high risk because that is open heart surgery,” he says.

It was after a lot of research and work that the parents received the heartbreaking news that their trip wouldn’t be happening. Taghizadeh says, “For getting the visa, they ask for lot of the paperwork. You have to do many things, you know. For three weeks we working for every single thing they wanted.” The appointment was for February 5th, but it was only after arriving in Dubai last Saturday to complete the paperwork for their tourist visa at the U.S. consulate that they got news of the ban.

Taghizadeh, who has lived in the U.S. for the last 13 years, reiterates his worries over the fact that Fatemah needs the surgery sooner rather than later. “They cannot wait, you know. Even I asked, can they wait a couple other years? They said no. This thing has to be as soon as possible.”

So now, the family is back in Iran, hopes dashed, with no idea when (or if) they can get their child the medical care she so badly needs. Is this what Donald Trump had in mind when he put in place a hasty ban that gave people no time to plan their lives? There are students being prevented from coming back to complete their studies, babies being detained at airports and denied access to breast milk and five-year-old’s being held without a parent for hours. America sure isn’t looking too great these days, and there’s reason to fear it will get worse.

For now, a sick infant’s family is left to panic. As Taghizadeh says, “It’s like a nightmare. You know, in the one night everything changes. Now you don’t know what you’re going to do. Why we came to U.S., we came here for freedom. For a better life. I’m feeling nowhere is safe.”

And he’s certainly not alone in that feeling.

This article was originally published on