PTI(London) : Thousands of people have signed an online petition calling on the UK Home Office to allow an Indian woman suffering from a rare disease stay in Britain.
The petition for Bhavani Espathi, who is seriously ill with Crohn’s Disease, is edging close to its 150,000-signature target on Change.Org.
It was launched by the 31-year-old artist’s fiancé , Martin Mangler — a German national based in the UK as a volcanologist — in order to help with a Home Office review of the case.
The Londoner’s case came to light recently after it emerged that her application to stay in the UK on human rights grounds had been rejected.
“The doctors say she needs to stay here, but the Home Office want to deport her to India. They even threatened her with deportation whilst she was unconscious in coma,” noted Mangler’s petition titled ‘Let Bhavani Live’.
“Doctors say her life is at risk if she would be deported. This means the Home Office could be sending her to her death. The Home Office have admitted that she wouldn’t get as good care in India, and pointed out that she could get ‘palliative care’ instead,” it said.
Crohn’s Disease is a digestive tract disorder for which Espathi requires a specific immunosuppressant, which she says is currently unavailable in India.
The Home Office has said that her case is being reviewed again after it was made aware of “fresh evidence” in March.
“This cruel politics has to end, so that Bhavani can continue to get the care she desperately needs,” urges her fianc ‘s petition, which has been signed by over 147,000 people.
Many of the signatories have left message of shock and support over the “torturous” situation, with one nurse adding that anyone in such a condition should not be forced to travel.
Espathi, who came to the UK as a student in 2010 and has since created a social innovation online hub for people with chronic illnesses called Invisible Labs, underwent a surgery in September last year but it resulted in complications. She is required to undergo further surgeries because her stomach never closed properly.
“She remains on a drip to gain weight so that she can survive the next surgeries. She can’t travel at all and the surgeons say that it is of vital importance that her care continued to be coordinated and performed here in the UK,” notes the petition by Mangler.
The UK Home Office visa refusal to Espathi, issued in December last year, accepted that the healthcare systems in the UK and in India are “unlikely to be equivalent” but concluded that it does not entitle her to remain in the UK.
“The only thing keeping me somewhat ‘healthy’ besides constant medical attention are immunosuppressants such as Ustekinumab, which is currently unavailable in India, the country that the British Home Office believes is a place I should return for ‘palliative care’ instead of living in the UK,” says Espathi, on her online campaign blog ‘The Only Be’.
Her local MP from Lewisham in south-east London, Labour’s Vicky Foxcroft, also raised the “distressing case” in the House of Commons earlier this week and was told by the Leader of the House, Andrea Leadsom, that she should take up the “worrying” issue with the Home Office directly.
“The Home Office’s barbaric treatment of migrants continues to appall me. I will do all I can to oppose it,” Foxcroft said in a statement.