New hope for Garden Grove cancer-stricken grandmother in stem cell transplant

GARDEN GROVE, Calif. (KABC) -- Helen Huynh, a Garden Grove woman diagnosed with cancer, desperately needed stem cells from her sister Thuy Nguyen.

Nguyen is a perfect match for a transplant, but her request for a visa to enter the United States from Vietnam was denied.

MORE: OC family fights to save mom's life after US gov't denies stem cell donor entry into country

Several legislators worked on the family's behalf after ABC7 aired a report on Sept. 15 about the family's story, leading to Nguyen's request approval a few days ago.

She was granted "humanitarian parole," which allowed her to fly to the U.S. to help her sister.

MORE: OC woman to get life-saving stem cell transplant from sister after US gov't grants temp stay

The 18-hour plane ride from Vietnam was the last leg of Nguyen's obstacle-filled journey to Los Angeles.

Her nieces and brother-in-law were so grateful to see her after their family's long struggle to get her here. They hope her perfectly matched stem cells will save their mom, who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia.

"She has acute myeloid leukemia and sarcoma on her chest and spinal cord," Huynh's daughter Sharon Adams said.

Her family said Nguyen is focused on doing whatever she can to help. In Vietnam, Nguyen has a 5-year-old son and other young relatives she helps raise, so she had to make arrangements to make sure they were cared for.

"All she knows is that right now, she's here and she's able to help my mom now," Adams said.

Their mother's rapid decline is too much for her daughters to bear.

Over the summer, Nguyen went to the U.S. consulate three times to apply for a visa. Each time, she was denied.

"Not only were we fighting against cancer, we were trying really hard to get the U.S. government to see the whole picture and what's going on and we all got all caught up in the bureaucracy of it," Yvonne Murray, Huynh's daughter, said.

Only 12 days later, after ABC7's David Ono shared Helen's story, Nguyen's request for humanitarian parole was granted.

Murray went to Vietnam to accompany her aunt back to the U.S., while Sharon and the rest of the family stayed by their mother's bedside.

The family is grateful for the public's outpouring of support. "We're very thankful for everybody who helped us with this because I don't think this would have happened without you guys," Adams said.

They also thanked the representatives who worked on their behalf including Rep. Alan Lowenthal, Rep. Lou Correa and Sen. Kamala Harris.

The family said they hoped their story will pave the way for others in the same situation. "I really hope we will make some changes, positive changes so that others don't have to do go through what my family had to go through," Murray said.

Nguyen's plans are to visit her sister, who is now at City of Hope where they are evaluating Huynh to decide what the best next steps are.

We will follow the family as they continue to come together in an effort to help their beloved mother, sister and aunt.

The family set up a GoFundMe account to pay for medical expenses. If you would like to donate, you may do so by clicking here.
Copyright © 2020 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.