Life-saving donor denied visa to help Eastbourne cousin

Roland Blell at his home in Sovereign Harbour
Roland Blell at his home in Sovereign Harbour

An Eastbourne man in need of a kidney transplant is urging the Home Office to reconsider after officials refused to grant a visa to his cousin in Lebanon who could save his life.

Roland Blell, 45, needs dialysis for more nine hours each day and medics say his cousin Dany Bilal, who lives in Lebanon, is a match.

Doctors have supported an application to bring Mr Bilal to the UK on a tourist visa so the operation can go ahead but the Home Office recently refused permission saying there was not sufficient evidence Mr Bilal would return home afterwards.

Mr Blell, of Macquarie Quay, said, “My cousin is my only hope. At the moment I am really frustrated and helpless.”

His consultant Dr Neil Iggo at the Sussex Kidney Unit in Brighton has written to the Home Office supporting Mr Bilal’s application for a visa.

And renal welfare officer Lee Hamilton said, “Mr Bilal will be engaged in a wonderful and selfless act of donating an organ to our patient so that Roland Blell can have continued life; free from renal replacement therapy (dialysis).

“It is essential he be allowed to travel to the UK for him to engage in our pre­-transplant work programme.”

Mr Blell also has the support of Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell.

She said, “I will be meeting with the Immigration Minister, James Brokenshire, to discuss this case, which does seem to have been dealt with harshly.

“Mr Blell’s cousin only wishes to enter the country to donate a kidney to help his relative in what is clearly a compassionate case, so I will be pressing the minister to look at the circumstances again.

“Everyone knows there must be rules to stop people entering the country on false grounds, but Mr Blell has provided ample medical evidence he needs a kidney transplant and that his cousin in Lebanon is the only match, so I hope something can be done quickly.”

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