Luton family’s fears for son after visa ban

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A young Luton businessman who needs a life-saving kidney transplant has been left devastated after the cousin who had agreed to be a donor was refused a visa.

Gulfraz Ahmed, 33, of Kent Road said: “I’m angry and frustrated by the decision and I just can’t understand it.

“My mother gave me one of her kidneys when I was 12 but that’s beginning to fail. I’m now on dialysis three times a week, which is costing the NHS £50,000 a year.

“My family went to Pakistan at their own expense to see if they could find a relative to help as many of them here have diabetes and are unsuitable.

“My cousin Saima Rehman was happy to be tested and is a good match. We had the bloods double checked in Pakistan and brought back a sample for the Lister Hospital in Stevenage where I’m being treated.

“But when she went to the embassy to get a six month visa to come here for the transplant, she was turned down.”

The official letter from the British High Commission in Islamabad states Saima’s intentions are in doubt and they are not satisfied the family’s economic circumstances have been accurately presented.

There is no right of appeal, nor for an administrative review.

Gulfraz, who went to Challney Boys High and now works in the family tyre business, is furious and frustrated.

He says: “They’re changing the rules on visas but something like this should have priority.

“We’ve provided proof of our relationship, and I’ve sent bank statements. They asked Saima if she knew how the transplant would affect her health and how long the recovery would be – but that sort of question should be directed at the professionals, not the patient.

“She has the same rare blood group as me – B Positive – and she’s a mother of three so she’ll want to get back to her family as soon as she’s well enough. “

Gulfraz now faces the grim prospect of dying before a suitable organ comes up on the waiting list.

His heartbroken mother Parveen says it was a complete shock when her eldest son was born with kidney problems: “He’s always been on a special diet, he’s never been able to play sport but he’s always been clever and made the best of everything.

“I gave him one of kidneys and I would willingly give the other one – I just want him to live a normal life.

MP Gavin Shuker said: “This is an incredibly tough case that we’ve been involved with since it was first raised with me in May.

“Our immigration system should be tough but fair - this decision by officials is neither. The Home Office should show compassion in order to give Gulfraz Ahmed the best chance of a normal life, and allow Mrs Rehman to travel to the UK.”

Gulfraz’s solicitor Aisha Noor told the Luton News: “We now have two options – we can ask for a judicial review or make a fresh application addressing the issues of the initial refusal.

“We are keen to get this resolved as soon as possible, given Mr Ahmed’s age and circumstances.”