The Home office has been accused of “lacking compassion” by an MP after the aunt of an 11-year-old boy with a terminal brain tumour was denied a visa to visit him one last time from Pakistan.
Husayn Asim was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain tumour on his 11th birthday in November, devastating the whole family. The P7 pupil at Preston Street Primary School has a limited life expectancy with his glioma deemed inoperable by specialists.
Dad Muhammad Asim, 48, told the Evening News: “When we were told, we were devastated. You don’t expect something like this as a parent. We didn’t know what to do. We don’t know how long he has left.
“We have all been so worried. We can’t sleep or eat properly. My wife has lost a lot of weight through stress.”
Further bad news was to follow as it was discovered in January that a second tumour had formed on another part of his brain.
The youngster is currently undergoing an intense six-week programme of radiotherapy and chemotherapy at Western General Hospital.
Muhammad said: “This is the best treatment available to him in the UK. It is very difficult because it is not operable.
“We were told there was no other example of this in the UK. There was one child in America who was given a maximum of 15 months to live.
“At the moment that’s what we think we may have.
“At the moment he is coping well but he’s only going to school for two hours a day because he’s tired.”
Due to the severity of Husayn’s condition, the family decided to ask his auntie Sadia Arshad, 30, to visit him from Pakistan. But the Home Office rejected her visit visa application and, with no option to appeal, they have to send in a new application.
Doctors have advised Husayn not to travel to Pakistan in his condition.
A Home Office spokesman said: “All UK visa applications are considered on their individual merits, including any exceptional or compassionate circumstances, and in line with the immigration rules.
“Applicants for visit visas must provide evidence of their financial circumstances and where they fail to do so their applications will be refused.”
MP for Edinburgh East Tommy Sheppard has criticised the Home Office for “lacking compassion and decency”.
He said: “This is a woman who just wants to visit her nephew while he’s very ill. However, cynicism seems to be so ingrained at the Home Office that everyone who wants to visit the UK, even if it’s only to visit a sick relative, is treated like a potential illegal immigrant.
“If the family wants to go ahead with another application, I’ll do everything I can to support them in that.”
The family, who live in the Old Town, intends to make every day count with mum Ruhma, 40, and sisters Fatima, 14, and eight-year-old Sarah.
He said: “It is a ridiculous situation. We just want to spend as much time as possible together as a family. There are no other options for treatment available and it is such an upsetting situation. We’ve all been so stressed but it is about being there for Husayn.”