HomeCommunity IssuesVisas approved for Vietnamese brothers to give bone marrow to sibling

Visas approved for Vietnamese brothers to give bone marrow to sibling

Bone marrow transplant graphic

Views from the Edge

Two Vietnamese brothers will be allowed to travel to the US for a critical medical procedure needed to save a third brother’s life, says Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), who worked to facilitate the visa approvals.

Lofgren and other California politicians, including Sen. Kamala Harris, intervened after it was learned that visas had been denied to the two brothers who wanted to come to the US to donate bone marrow to their brother. They lobbied the State Department on behalf of the San Jose brother’s family, and the U.S. ambassador to Vietnam arranged for another visa interview for the brothers.

Tu Le, a San Jose resident, has been suffering from an aggressive form of cancer that requires the transplant. His brothers were determined to be 100 percent genetic matches, but were originally denied B-2 tourism visas to enter the country.

“I couldn’t be happier for Tu Le and his family,” Lofgren said in a statement released Tuesday (June 18). “Imagine knowing that a bone marrow transfer may be the only way to save your life; only to see your brothers, who are the bone marrow donors, denied the chance to come save you.” 

Be the Match stats

A petition in his support also gathered more than 18,000 signatures after the San Francisco Chronicle first reported about Le’s condition in early June.

“I am pleased the Department of State has recognized the moral imperative to act, and that Tu Le will receive the urgent and life-saving care he needs,” Harris said in a statement. “My thoughts will be with Tu Le, his daughter Diem Trinh Colisao, and the rest of their family throughout the road ahead.” 

Donors of Asian descent have historically been low making finding a match difficult. Because the markers used in matching are inherited, patients are more likely to match someone from their own race or ethnicity. Adding more bone marrow donors and cord blood units from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds to the Be The Match Registry increases the likelihood that patients will find the match they need.

Your heritage can make all the difference.If you are of Asian descent, you are especially encouraged to register as a bone marrow or donate umbilical cord blood upon delivery.

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