SoCal cancer patient looking for help after marrow donor denied visa to enter U.S.

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Friday, January 5, 2024
Marrow donor who could help SoCal cancer patient denied visa
A Southern California cancer patient is looking for help after a relative who is a match for marrow donation was denied a visa to enter the United States.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Arthur Yu is battling blood cancer - and his best chance for survival is stuck in government red tape across the Pacific.

Yu's half-match for a bone-marrow transplant is a relative in the Philippines who has been denied a visa to enter the United States. Now Yu is hoping for some political help to get him the treatment he needs.

The 41-year-old first realized something was wrong last year. He's a Los Angeles Marathon runner, a personal trainer and the father of an energetic 14-month-old. So he's no stranger to being out of breath, but usually it happens after some exertion.

"I would park my car at the curb, I'd walk up to the front porch - that's about a 20-foot walk-up - and my smart watch said that I'd just run a marathon," he recalled. "My heart rate was like 130, 140. I'd walk in the door and Alice was like, 'Why are you so out of breath?' 'I have no idea."

He soon was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a type of blood cancer.

He's since gone through four rounds of chemotherapy and needs to find a matching bone-marrow donor.

Thanks to the Be The Match organization, he found one, in the Philippines. The potential donor was a distant cousin and considered a half-match.

But then came the bad news: The donor's request for a visa was denied by the U.S. State Department.

"We were just amazed at just how quickly his visa was denied - and to be met with basically this wall with no door, it's extremely frustrating," Yu said.

He reached out to Rep. Adam Schiff for help but was told the U.S. Senate holds the key to help with visa disputes.

So he's put in a request to Sen. Alex Padilla. He and his wife waited through the holidays and then just recently got an acknowledgement that their request was received, but no indication yet whether the senator can assist.

And that's a problem because the clock is ticking. Yu's cousin is set for a second visa interview in the Philipines next week. Without Padilla's help, Yu says there's a good chance he'll be denied again.

Meantime, because his donor is stuck in red tape, Yu is now facing another round of chemo - and wondering if he'll ever get the bone marrow he so desperately needs.

He's also hoping his situation raises awareness so that perhaps the process can be modified to avoid this difficulty for others in desperate need.

Sen. Padilla's office tells Eyewitness News they have made a congressional inquiry into the visa donor's request. Such requests don't guarantee approval but they can potentially expedite the review process.