A Gambian boy born without ears has been refused entry into Britain for a life-changing operation that would allow him to hear properly for the first time.
The government won’t allow Mohammed Cham into the country after his application for a temporary visa was denied.
The eight-year-old was due to fly from his native Gambia to Scotland next week to have an implant inserted into his ear during surgery.
The charity Project Gambia People Feeding People had arranged the trip and is now urging the government to reconsider its decision, the Mirror reports.
Mohammed, also known as Alieu, was left in tears after being told the British Embassy in Gambia had blocked his visa application.
The charity, which provides meals and hearing aids at St John’s School for the Deaf in the Gambian village Serekunda, spent 16 months planning the trip.
They had arranged for NHS Lanarkshire ENT specialist surgeon Arunachalam Iyer to carry out the surgery at Monklands Hospital in Airdrie.
Project chairman Frank Devine said: “We’re desperate to help this poor wee soul but we’re being stopped by people playing God.
Frank insists the charity followed every procedure on the visa application and were stunned to discover it had been knocked back.
Mohammed, who was born deaf, was due to travel to Scotland with his deputy head teacher Mary Ann Allen and Project Gambia volunteer Alasan Canara, with all three set to be surprise guests of honour at the charity’s summer ball.
They were due to stay with Frank’s project partner, Paul Lafferty, at his home in Bellshill during their visit. Frank, 57, from Mossend, said: “Everything was in place and we never thought there would be any issues with visas.
“We followed every procedure to the letter and spent a month in Gambia working on the application. They knocked us back because we never told them the name of the surgeon and because we didn’t mention the hospital that the operation was to be performed in – but we were never asked to provide that information.
“Why refuse visa applications with stipulations we as a charity were never asked to adhere to? We answered every question asked of us. These questions were never posed and if they were, we would have answered them. To refuse the visa application on those grounds is a joke. We just wanted to help give a child the chance to hear again but it’s being made so difficult. We promised wee Alieu we would get him sorted and we keep our promises – always.”
Dr Iyer was due to operate on the youngster in the coming weeks and planned to insert an implant which would restore his hearing.
He said: “We have put a lot of effort into confirming his suitability for a hearing aid as he has no ear canal. The next step would be a bone anchored hearing aid and that’s what I was planning to do when he arrived in Scotland. I am very sad and frustrated to hear that he won’t be able to make the trip as a lot of people have put in effort.”
Frank, along with Paul, Charlie Docherty and Lynne Hamilton Gillies, set up the project seven years ago to donate school uniforms, bags, IT equipment, sportswear, footwear and clothing to children living in poor conditions.
Mohammed came to their attention when he arrived at the school and Frank noticed how self-conscious the youngster was.
He said: “He’s grown up in poverty and because he has no ears, he’s shunned by people in the community. I noticed straight away that he has no confidence and he would try to hide away. He knows sign language but coming to Scotland and having an implant fitted would give him the chance to hear properly. In the future, we’d like to look at creating ears for him using cartilage and we’re speaking to doctors about it. His family can’t afford medical treatment. He’s a character and deserves the best chance at life. We are all heartbroken his visa has been refused. We put so much planning and effort into raising funds to bring him over here and now it’s all been shattered.”
The Home Office said it is not normally possible to come to the UK as a visitor to access NHS services.
A spokesperson said: “Applications for an individual to visit the UK for medical treatment must demonstrate that private healthcare arrangements are in place ready for their arrival. In addition, they must include a letter from a doctor or consultant detailing the medical condition, estimated cost and likely duration of the treatment and where it will be delivered.
“Where that is not provided, applications will be refused.”
Courtesy of Mirror Newspaper, UK