(NEW YORK) — A nearly-comatose Pakistani student, who was studying in Wisconsin, may be sent back to Pakistan after his student visa runs out at the end of February even though he can no longer talk or care for himself.
Muhammad Shahzaib Bajwa, 20, was studying at the University of Wisconsin-Superior when he was in a car accident in November. The car carrying Shahzaib Bajwa hit a deer and the 20-year-old suffered multiple fractures in his face after the animal went through the windshield. At the hospital, he choked on his own blood and temporarily went into cardiac arrest.
Although he was revived, he suffered brain-swelling and other injuries that left him in a “minimally conscious” state, according to his older brother Muhammad Shahraiz Bajwa.
“He opens his eyes…sometimes he smiles, sometimes he cries, he moves his legs. His body parts are all moving,” said Shahraiz Bajwa. “The trauma doctors say that he’s young and he’s intelligent, he needs time. It takes a lot of time for the brain to recover.”
Shahraiz Bajwa said it may take years to know how much of his brother’s injuries will be permanent.
Shahzaib Bajwa was originally supposed to be in the U.S. for one semester and his visa was set to expire in November, according to Shahzaib Bajwa’s immigration attorney and his brother.
His lawyer, Saiko McIvor, said the student visa is supposed to be for students who are enrolled at a school, but was extended for Shahzaib Bajwa by the State Department after the car accident.
She said she had no information from the State Department if they would extend that visa or if they would allow Shahzaib Bajwa to stay under “humanitarian parole,” which would allow him to stay for a “temporary period of time due to a compelling emergency.”
“He’s definitely here in the country legally with the proper legal status,” said McIvor. “The question beyond that is will there be any visa status beyond that [date.] We will know within the next day or so. As of this moment we don’t know.”
According to a statement from Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth, Minn., they are working to make arrangements to have Shahzaib Bajwa sent to Pakistan after his visa expires on Feb. 28.
“The U.S. State Department is not renewing Mr. Bajwa’s visa, therefore he is not legally allowed to stay in the country,” read the statement. “St. Mary’s Medical Center has been working with the State Department, which is making arrangements for Mr. Bajwa’s medical transport home. This is an unfortunate situation and his caregivers are working closely with Mr. Bajwa’s family to ensure the smoothest transition possible.”
The State Department has not independently confirmed that they will not renew Shahzaib Bajwa’s visa or consider allowing him to stay under humanitarian parole.
Shahraiz Bajwa said that the hospital had asked their mother to sign a consent form to allow them to discharge Shahzaib Bajwa and arrange transport back to Pakistan, but he had told her to wait to sign it.
Shahraiz Bajwa said that he and his mother want to keep the 20-year-old student in the U.S. because they believe his health could deteriorate greatly if he’s sent on a 24- to 30-hour flight to Pakistan and receive substandard care in that country.
Shahraiz Bajwa said their insurance, received through Shahzaib Bajwa’s exchange program, has offered to find a hospital to put his brother in Pakistan. But he doesn’t believe his brother can survive in Pakistan.
“It’s pushing him towards death,” said Shahraiz Bajwa. “That hospital will take him out when he runs out of money.”
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
Josh Friesen, Idaho State Journal
Karen Lehr, KIVI