Iranian baby delayed by travel ban recovering after heart surgery

The infant came to the U.S. to have life-saving heart surgery.

February 28, 2017, 1:29 PM

— -- An Iranian infant who was delayed in entering the U.S. due to the recent travel ban has successfully undergone heart surgery to fix a genetic defect, hospital officials said.

Fatehmeh Reshad, a 4-month-old infant from Iran, arrived in the U.S. to undergo tests and treatment earlier this month to fix a genetic heart defect, according to officials at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). The infant was born with a condition where two main arteries are reversed.

Fatemeh had been scheduled to arrive for treatment and heart surgery on Feb. 5 because there was no hospital in Iran that provided the complex operation that would save her life. The infant and her parents had been working with lawyers and other officials when President Trump's executive order was implemented, which temporarily banned most travelers from seven majority-Muslim nations.

The family arrived on Feb. 7 after working with the Department of Homeland Security, according to the family's attorney Jennifer Morrissey. And while the delay was only two days, her medical condition made the delay serious, Morrissey said.

Fatehmeh underwent surgery on Friday and is currently recovering, said Dr. Laurie Armsby, associate professor of pediatrics and interim head of the division of pediatric cardiology at OSHU's Doernbecher Children's Hospital.

"She's in the ICU and recovering as we would hope she would," Armsby said at a news conference on Monday. "Her heart function looks beautiful, so, we're very pleased with how she's recovering."

Armsby said the family did not want details of the surgery or Fatemeh's current condition released to the public.

Sam Taghizadeh, Fatemeh's uncle, said it felt like "a miracle" to get Fatemeh and her parents in the U.S. for surgery.

"In the beginning, I didn't have any hope about my family coming here," Taghizadeh said during Monday's news conference. "I said, 'Who is going to listen to me?' ... I was surprised how the people in the U.S. helped."

Morrissey said Fatemeh's family was informed of the cancellation of Jan. 27, when the travel ban was announced.

"The delay was just a few days, but obviously every day was critical given her medical condition," Morrissey said at Monday's news conference.

Taghizadeh, who lives in Oregon, said so many people reached out to help that Fatemeh's parents couldn't believe the strangers weren't friends of Taghizadeh.

"They asked me, 'Why these people [helping us]?" Taghizadeh said. "They couldn't believe it."

Taghizadeh also thanked the many people -- including lawyers, lawmakers and doctors -- who helped to get Fatemeh in the country for medical treatment.

"English is a second language for me and I couldn't find the words to say thank you," he said.

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