Posted on March 27, 2011 at 5:07 PM
Feds may force ailing Portland children back to Kenya
PORTLAND — US Citizenship and Immigration Services officials have decided to allow a Kenyan family and its two sick boys to stay longer in Portland to receive medical treatment.
The news came with great relief to 17-year-old Aamir Khandwalla.
He and his younger brother, Hanzallah, each stand barely three feet tall, suffering from a rare growth-stunting disease called Desbuquois Syndrome. “I slept very well last night,” said Aamir Khandwalla.
Before the good news came, family and friends were in distress, demonstrating with picket signs at Pioneer Courthouse Square as the Government had given the Khandwalla’s until the end of the month to go back to their native Kenya.
That would’ve ended the boys’ on-going treatment, provided at no cost by Shriner’s hospital.
“It’s great immigration let us stay here,” said Hanzallah who can now re-focus his attention on three major physical problems. “My leg, my back, my heart.”
And his father doesn’t have to worry about leaving their Portland home of eight years in a panic.
“At the bottom of our heart we had accepted that people are very sympathetic and hopefully it’s going to work,” said the father, Muhammed Khandwalla, after their plight started to draw national attention last week.
But it’s not a permanent solution.
US Citizenship and Immigration Services tells NewsChannel 8, “We have continued to review this case and, after careful consideration of the facts, have determined to again extend relief to the family so that the children can access medical care in this country for a longer period of time,” according to Chris Bentley, a department Press Secretary.
“Just see what happens next,” said Aamir who figures he has a year of treatment before worrying about immigration issues again.
His father, for now, had an important weight lifted. “At least I’ll be able to work and support the family,” said Muhammed Khandwalla.
The family said doctors have told them only 50 people in the world suffer from the rare disease.
Muhammed said he simply couldn’t find proper treatment for his sons in Kenya. That’s why he moved to Portland. Shriner’s Hospital has offered to pay their medical bills until each boy turns 21-year-old.