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‘Why did I need to go to the media to fight for it?’ Home Office finally relents on visa for kidney op

Oliver Cameron’s sister to arrive within days in order to donate potentially  life-saving kidney

The Home Office has reversed its controversial decision to refuse a visa to a woman who wanted to come to Britain to donate a kidney to her seriously ill brother.

Politicians, religious leaders, migrants’ groups and journalists had urged the department to allow the potentially life-saving visit to take place.

Oliver Cameron, from north London, has been unable to work since suffering a near-fatal renal failure in 2012 and needs a kidney transplant to avoid daily dialysis.

After his older sister, Keisha Rushton, was found to be compatible, the operation was arranged to take place last October.

But when Ms Rushton, who lives in Jamaica, applied for a visa, it was rejected by the Home Office on the grounds that she might not return home.

The ruling – highlighted earlier this month by The Independent – provoked outrage. An online petition was also launched to plead with the Home Office to re-examine the family’s plight and issue a temporary visa to Ms Rushton.

James Brokenshire, the immigration minister, is understood to have examined the case personally and overturned the previous ruling. His decision was confirmed last night by Home Office sources.

Ms Rushton is due to pick up her visa tomorrow (tues) from the UK High Commission in Kingston and to fly to London within days.

Mr Cameron told The Independent: “This will make such a difference to myself and my family. I called my sister with the news and she was just so pleased. We are hoping she will be in London by the end of this week and the operation can take place in the next few weeks.”

The plumber, who needs the daily dialysis to prevent renal failure, questioned why he had had to seek publicity to highlight his case to secure his sister’s visitor visa.

He said: “I’m grateful to those, including The Independent, who brought my case to light. But I’m left wondering how many others like me are out there.

“Why did it require me to go to the media and say my sister wants to give me her kidney but they won’t let her into the country?

“There is a fault if a system can’t allow compassion. I'm grateful the authorities have seen sense, but it’s been a long road to reach this decision.”

Mr Cameron spent more than a week in intensive care in December 2012 after his kidneys failed. He was told by doctors that the drug he had been taking for his diabetes had damaged his kidneys so seriously that without a transplant he would need dialysis to keep him alive.

After tests on his sister showed her to be a match, he borrowed £700 to pay for a visa for her and her baby son.

However, when Ms Rushton visited the commission she was handed a letter telling her that her application had been rejected.

She was told “close consideration” had been given to the “compassionate aspects” of her reasons to travel.

But the letter, signed anonymously by “Entry Clearance Officer 5”, concluded: “I am not satisfied that you genuinely intend a short visit only to the UK and that you will leave the UK at the end of the visit.”

Sunder Katwala, the director of the thinktank British Future, said: “It’s a relief to finally see a decision on this case that is based on compassion and common sense. I think most people, regardless of their politics, thought that denying a visa to Oliver’s sister was a step too far.

“We know pressure was building on this case from across the political spectrum. People want a robust immigration system but there has to be room for fairness as well as firmness.”