Pakistani family fighting to keep brain-damaged son in Duluth hospital

By KBJR News 1

February 12, 2014 Updated Feb 12, 2014 at 7:51 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com)--- 20-year-old Muhammad Shahzeib Bajwa was spending last semester in a foreign exchange program at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

On November 13 he and friends were driving back from Minneapolis when their car collided with a deer.

Bajwa's brother says he suffered severe facial fractures, but was talking and responsive when he arrived at Cloquet Memorial Hospital.

His condition soon took a turn for the worst.

"He choked on his own blood and he suffered cardiac arrest and it took them seven or eight minutes to retrieve his heart beat," said Muhammad Shahraiz Bajwa.

His brother was left without oxygen for that seven or eight minutes and was left with brain damage.

He was transferred to Essentia Health St Mary's Duluth.

Shahraiz said his brother's condition has continued to improve since being transferred. He smiles, squeezes hands, can wiggle his toes and breathe on his own.

"They're saying it's not enough, he has to do more but the trauma doctors say he needs time," said Shahraiz Bajwa.

The problem is Shahzeib Bajwa's student visa expires on February 28. The family was notified ten days ago that the hospital is working with the state department to get Bajwa to a facility in Pakistan.

The family says they have been under pressure to sign a consent form to return to him there, but worry that he will die once he is there.

"At this point taking him back it's gonna get worse and the chances of his survival and recovery are better here," said Shahraiz.

Shahraiz Bajwa said his brother's foreign exchange insurance policy covers $100,000 in medical costs and Essentia Health has not charged that policy for his brother's medical care.

He also says that money would only get his brother three months of care in Pakistan .

The University of Wisconsin Superior, where Shahzeib was a student has stepped in to show support. Many students and faculty have visited him in the hospital, some have sent pictures and posters to show their support during his recovery.

"Shahzeib was an incredible young talented individual, who was a human rights activist. He made a lasting impression on a lot of people at the institution. It's a horrible tragedy and our thoughts and wishes go out to the family and friends," said Lynne Williams, Director of Marketing and Communications at UWS.

The family has an immigration attorney who is looking at options for keeping the man in the country.

Essentia Health has issued a statement saying quote " Mr. Bajwa's student visa expires Feb.28. The U.S. State Department is not renewing Mr. Bajwa's visa, therefore he is not legally allowed to stay in the country. St. Mary's Medical Center has been working with the State Department, which is making arrangements for Mr. Bajwa's medical transport home. This is an unfortunate situation and his caregivers are working closely with Mr. Bajwa's family to ensure the smoothest transition possible."

Written and posted to the web by Raeanna Marnati
rmarnati@kbjr.com

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