A week after a Yemeni mother was granted permission to fly to the United States to say goodbye to her dying 2-year-old son, the boy has died in Oakland, family attorneys announced Friday night.
Shaima Swileh’s urgent pleas garnered nationwide media coverage after the U.S. Embassy in Cairo gave her a presidential proclamation waiver and visa to visit her son, Abdullah Hassan, at the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland, where he was being treated for a rare brain condition,
“We are heartbroken. We had to say goodbye to our baby, the light of our lives,” said Abdullah’s father, Ali Hassan. “We want to thank everyone for your love and support at this difficult time. We ask you to kindly keep Abdullah and our family in your thoughts and prayers.”
Swileh’s visa application had been denied and she was barred from entering the United States because of the Trump administration’s travel ban on Muslim-majority countries, family attorneys said.
Saad Sweilem, a civil rights attorney with the Council on American-Islamic Relations Sacramento Valley office, said in a statement that Swileh and Hassan are in the council’s prayers.
“With their courage, this family has inspired our nation to confront the realities of Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban,” Sweilem said. “In his short life, Abdullah has been a guiding light for all of us in the fight against xenophobia and family separation.”
On Dec. 19, Swileh arrived at the San Francisco International Airport — just a day after she was granted a visa waiver — and listened to her attorneys and Hassan give brief statements to journalists before she was rushed to the Oakland hospital to see her son that night.
Abdullah, a U.S. citizen, had been diagnosed with a rare brain condition called hypomyelination. Hassan, also a U.S. citizen, brought the boy to California to receive medical treatment as his condition worsened in recent months, family attorneys said.
Family attorneys accuse the embassy in Cairo of ignoring 28 “desperate pleas” including medical documents confirming the boy’s condition from the family to expedite requests for Swileh’s visa.
A funeral service for Abdullah is scheduled for Saturday afternoon at the California Islamic Center at 12882 Lower Sacramento Road in Lodi.