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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 January 2008, 15:05 GMT
Cancer patient loses visa battle
Ama Sumani
Ama Sumani was treated at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff

A Ghanaian woman who came to the UK five years ago and became a student is being flown back to the African country, despite being terminally ill.

Ama Sumani was taken by immigration officers from a Cardiff hospital where she has been receiving dialysis for a year after cancer damaged her kidneys.

Ms Sumani, 39, whose visa has expired, said she cannot afford care in Ghana.

Her solicitor said they had pleaded compassionate grounds. The Home Office said it examined each case "with care".

Before leaving, she had been comforted by a nurse in a day-room at the University Hospital of Wales.

The immigration service arrived at 0800 GMT.

Ms Sumani was tearful but calm when she left hospital in a wheelchair with five immigration officials, one carrying her suitcase, and she was driven away.

She left on a flight from Heathrow to Ghana at 1435 GMT.

The cancer she is suffering from - malignant myeloma - would ordinarily be treated with a bone marrow transplant, but she was not entitled to the treatment.

The dialysis treatment she has been receiving is helping to prolong her life and her last treatment was on Tuesday evening.

Legal status

But it needs to be repeated regularly and there are concerns she would not be able to access dialysis treatment centres in Ghana.

Health care there is also private but Ms Sumani said she could not afford it.

A spokesman for Ghana's high commission in London said the country had two fully-equipped hospitals in Accra and further north in Kumasi.

He did concede that access to treatment was costly but said that if Ms Sumani was a member of the Ghana national health insurance scheme she would still receive treatment.

Immigration officials at the hospital
Immigration officials arrived at the hospital on Wednesday morning

A friend Janet Symmons said Ms Sumani was a widow and a mother of two children, who were currently being looked after by members of her church in Ghana.

She first came to the UK as a visitor in 2003, but then changed her status to student and attempted to enrol on a banking course at a city college, her solicitor explained.

Ms Sumani's lack of English prevented her from pursuing the course and she went to find work which contravened her student visa.

In 2005 she returned to Ghana to attend a memorial service for her dead husband.

But when she came back to the UK her student visa was revoked and she was only given temporary admission which effectively meant she was given notice she would be removed, her solicitor said.

She did not keep in touch with immigration officials and was first taken ill in January 2006. Without the dialysis doctors fear she only has weeks to live.

Her solicitor said she accepted her removal was fair but said they had made representations on her behalf on compassionate grounds.

Ms Sumani is being removed from the country rather than deported because of her expired visa which means she has no legal status in the UK.

A removal means that in theory she could apply to return to the UK in the future.

A spokesman for the Border and Immigration agency said said it would not remove from the UK anyone who they believe is at risk on their return.

"Part of our consideration when a person is removed is their fitness to travel and whether the necessary medical treatment is available in the country to which we are returning," he added.

"Removals are always carried out in the most sensitive way possible, treating those being removed with courtesy and dignity."


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