Nasar Ullah Khan lost his battle with a terminal heart condition at the age of 38 on February 14. The Pakistani immigrant and father of two received palliative treatment for months at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, UK, before being transferred to St. Mary's Hospice, where he passed the following day.
This may sound like a story of doctors being unable to save their patient despite doing all that they could have done. On the contrary, the one thing that could have saved Khan, the hospital refused to do. Khan had been living in the UK for the past nine years, but his work visa had expired at the time his illness developed. Due to his immigration status, the hospital refused to grant him a heart transplant, which could have saved his life.
"I am disappointed because we were told on December 14 that he would be considered for a transplant and they would look into placing him on the waiting list, they were saying he would be having tests and scans," Khan's brother Faisal Hanif told Birmingham Live. "Then they said he would not be eligible because of his immigration status, because he did not have leave to remain."
Khan, who had lived in the UK for nine years, continued to receive treatment for the pain his illness caused him during his stay at Queen Elizabeth, which he was billed £32,000 for. Yet, he was still unable to receive a heart transplant due to a scarce supply of organs and a National Health Services policy that puts people who are 'ordinarily residents in the UK' on a higher priority.
"The NHS are not chasing us for the bill, but we don't know what is going to happen," Faisal said of his late brother's mountainous health care bill.
The tragic story does not come without a silver lining, however. Khan was granted his dying wish to reunite with his wife, Sania, and two children, Abdullah Muhammad, 11, and Saif Ullah, 9, after nine years apart on February 11. The family was able to secure "fast-track" visas to fly to Birmingham from Pakistan, with help from a crowdfunding campaign by the humanitarian group Doctors of the World. Additionally, businessmen of Birmingham are now working to raise funds to help Khan's family pay for his treatment of Queen Elizabeth.
What do you think of this tragedy? Did Khan's reunion with his family have to be his last and was he unfairly left for dead by a policy that "dehumanizes patients," or should this immigrant have considered that before his visa expired? Let us know in the comments below!