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Dying woman’s Nigerian sister granted UK visa for transplant


A WOMAN who is in urgent need of a stem cell transplant has been given a lifeline after her Nigerian sister, who was initially rejected entry into the UK, was granted a visa.

The decision came after an online campaign #SaveMayBrown garnered the support of people touched by the plight of young mother May Brown.

May, mother to two-year-old daughter Selina and wife to ex- British soldier Mike, has Acute Myeloid leukaemia and was in urgent need of a stem cell transplant.

Her sister Martha, who lives in Nigeria, is a perfect match, but had her second visa request refused as the Home Office, who said they believed she would try to remain in the UK following the procedure.

May had expressed that she would pay for her sister’s return flight and general living expenses, while providing accommodation for the duration of her stay in the UK. However, the visa request was still refused.

Consultants had previously confirmed May’s only chance of survival was to receive a stem cell transplant from a donor with a matching tissue type as hers. Martha had been identified as a 10 out of 10 match for her sister May.

Leading blood cancer charity, the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust (ACLT) launched an appeal last week (Oct 13), for the Home Office to review their decision due to the compassionate and exceptional circumstances regarding May Brown’s case.

A MOTHER'S LOVE: May with daughter Selina

An online petition was set up by ACLT which to date has amassed over 60,000 supporters.

The blood cancer charity was established by Beverley De-Gale OBE and Orin Lewis OBE; parents to the UK’s first black individual to receive a stem cell transplant from a non-related person.

The charity utilised national and social media to spread awareness, urging members of the public to support May by signing the petition and sharing it with their colleagues, friends and family. Appeal letters were also sent to the Home Secretary and the Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill MP.

May, who lives with her husband and daughter in Dorset, is currently undergoing her second round of intensive chemotherapy in King’s College Hospital, London.

The initial refusal letter from UK Visa’s & Immigration had said Martha did not meet the economic requirements as she was employed as a primary school teacher, earning 65,000 Naira (£222.88) per month.

It said it had to take into account her personal and economic circumstances in Nigeria, adding: “Given the above I am not satisfied that you are a genuine visitor and will leave the UK at the end of your visit or that you have sufficient funds available to cover your costs whilst in the UK without working or accessing public funds.”

May Brown has expressed relief about this turn of events: “I am overjoyed for the U-turn the Home Office has taken regarding my sister Martha’s visa application. I would like to thank the British public and beyond, and my MP Richard Drax for their overwhelming support. I would also like to thank ACLT. I will forever be grateful for the love and support they have shown my family and me.”

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