EGG HARBOR, N.J. -- Nina Saria of Egg Harbor, New Jersey looks like a healthy 33-year-old. But the catheter going to her heart shows that looks can be very deceiving. Nina desperately needs a kidney transplant.
She came to United States to study with no intention of staying. But she wound up getting married, having her son, Nicholas, and becoming a U.S. citizen.
“It just happened. I didn’t plan it...America is my country,” Nina told us.
Now, it appears that America, her country, has turned its back on her in her moment of need.
Somehow, Nina got a rare auto-immune disease. She’s been on dialysis three times a week for the past three years. It’s interrupted her life. She can’t be the full time nursing student she’d like to be. She has the catheter because her vascular system can’t take the dialysis process.
Because of it she’s always at risk for life-threatening infection. Nina’s doctors at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania say she needs the transplant as soon as possible.
It turns out, Nina’s mom, Nana, appears to be a perfect match. But her mom lives in Eastern Europe, in the Republic of Georgia. And the U.S. consulate there has twice turned down her mother for a tourist visa so she can save her daughter’s life.
“Basically the answer was we’re sorry. We know it’s an emergency. But we cannot let her go…The reason is my mother has stronger ties to America than to Georgia. Stronger ties to America is basically me and my son.”
In other words, the U.S. State Department is afraid Nina’s mom might stay here instead of going back to Georgia after the transplant.
Nina says her mother has no interest in staying here. She just wants to donate her kidney, heal and go back.
And, ironically, as a U.S. citizen Nina has the right to bring her mom here to stay. The problem is that process could take more than a year and Nina can’t afford to wait.
Nina had already solicited help from local politicians and a congressman and that didn’t work. So she got in touch with us for help.
We went to New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez’s office. Nina was in touch with Senator Cory Booker’s office. Both U.S. senators contacted the consulate in Georgia on Nina’s behalf. Incredibly, her mother was rejected for a visa for the third time!
“OK, I know Nina Saria is dying but I cannot let you go just because I’m assuming you’re gonna stay there.”
“I just have a hard time understanding the consular offices. When mother comes in and tells you please let me go to save my daughter and denying that. I feel like that you know for that person my life doesn’t really matter.”
That’s exactly the way it sounds. We thought there had to be a mistake. After all, we let so many people into this country and here’s a literal matter of life and death.
So we contacted the State Department. We figured that they just must not understand. But they just ducked behind privacy laws and refused comment.
So where do things stand?
Nina’s mom is requesting a visa on humanitarian grounds. But that could take months and Nina fears she may not have that much time.
The State Department doesn’t seem to care. So we’re turning to you. Perhaps you can save Nina’s life. We can function just fine on one kidney. If you’d like to see if you can be a match to save her life, or just want information about kidney donation, email us at HOWARDSHELPERS@PIX11.COM.
Maybe you can save Nina’s life when our own government refuses to help.