Smile of hope as family battles to stay
Published 30/01/2010 | 05:00
Ayodola Adekunle arrived at the Garda National Immigration Bureau yesterday clutching her mother's hand and a McDonald's Happy Meal.
An hour later the little girl (5) walked out of the Dublin bureau with her mother Eniola, sister Ayobami and brother Ayotomina (Tommy).
It was good news -- there was to be no imminent deportation to Nigeria. But yesterday's reprieve is temporary.
On Wednesday, Ayodola must again return to discover if she is to be put on a plane to a country where, in the view of a senior hospital consultant, it is highly likely she will die.
A few shivering supporters held messages of support. "Ayodola needs Ireland's help. Without it she has no hope. Don't let her down," said one placard.
Ayodola suffers from sickle cell disease, a problem that hinders normal blood flow in the body. She has had her spleen removed, which leaves her vulnerable to infections.
According to Dr Corina McMahon, consultant haematologist at Our Lady's Hospital in Crumlin, Dublin, it is "highly likely she will die" from malaria in Nigeria.
"We know that in Africa, 50pc of children with sickle cell disease won't even live to see their fifth birthday and this child has no spleen," said Dr McMahon.
Eniola Adekunle applied for asylum three years ago and was turned down. An appeal also failed. Now her daughter's sickness has become a dilemma for doctors and immigration officials.
Supporters of the family include Labour TD Pat Rabbitte, who said: "I would hope Justice Minister Dermot Ahern would review the case.
"The minister cannot ignore the statement from a respected consultant haematologist that the child is 'highly likely to die' if deported to Nigeria. This is a case where the health and life of a child should take precedence over rigid application of the rules."
Ms Adekunle says her daughter is feeling weak after numerous hospital visits.
"Any time I look at my daughter I tell myself: 'Oh my God, this girl is going back to Nigeria . . . she has no spleen'.
"Even before we came here it was difficult for her fighting malaria back home. Now how is she going to fight it?"