Bishops' appeal over cancer patient row
Jan 17 2008 icWales
BISHOPS in Wales have called for compassion in the case of a terminally-ill Ghanaian woman sent back to her country.
Ama Sumani, who suffers from malignant myeloma, was receiving dialysis at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, when she was flown back to Ghana last week after her visa expired.
Friends of the 39-year-old mother have campaigned for her return to Wales, as she cannot afford to pay for treatment in her home country.
Church in Wales leaders have asked the Border and Immigration Agency to reconsider the case, and say the decision to take Mrs Sumani from hospital in Cardiff was “a breach of her basic human rights”.
Dr Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales, said today: “You cannot follow the letter of the law when it comes to immigration because we are dealing with individual human beings, not commodities.
“There has to be room for flexibility of rules, a consideration of a person’s dignity, self-respect and basic human rights. We need to exercise compassion and understanding and act appropriately for each case.
“It is never appropriate for a civilised, wealthy society to turn, literally, a sick woman out of her bed and put her on a plane to a very worrying future. What sort of moral example does that send to the rest of the world?”
The other Welsh bishops backing his plea are John Davies, Bishop of St Asaph, Carl Cooper, Bishop of St Davids, Dominic Walker OGS, Bishop of Monmouth, Dr David Yeoman, Assistant Bishop of Llandaff, and Provincial Assistant Bishop David Thomas.
Britain’s immigration chief Lin Homer has told the all-party Home Affairs Select Committee that hundreds of cases like Ms Sumani’s are dealt with each year, but medical journal The Lancet has said the UK has committed “atrocious barbarism”.
It was revealed yesterday that an anonymous donation has been made to allow Ms Sumani to undergo treatment in Ghana for three months.