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Family: Keep Pakistani patient in US hospital

ADDS CREATION DATE, LOCATION AND BYLINE - This Aug. 7, 2013 photo provided by Shahraiz Bajwa and taken in Washington, D.C. shows Muhammad Shahzaib Bajwa, who has been comatose since being injured in a November crash while spending a semester in an exchange program at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. His family is trying to prevent the Essentia Health-St. Mary?s Medical Center in Duluth from sending him back to his home country. A hospital spokeswoman said Bajwa won?t be able to stay in the country legally after his student visa expires Feb. 28. (AP Photo/Courtesy Shahraiz Bajwa, Maryam Kamal)

By STEVE KARNOWSKI - Feb. 11, 2014 10:57 PM EST

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The family of an exchange student from Pakistan who has been comatose since a November crash is trying to prevent a Minnesota hospital from sending him back to his home country.

Muhammad Shahzaib Bajwa, 20, was spending a semester in an exchange program at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. On Nov. 13, he and his friends were driving back there from Minneapolis when their car struck a deer, his brother, Shahraiz Bajwa, told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Shahzaib Bajwa suffered severe facial fractures but was talking when he arrived at a hospital in Cloquet. He choked on blood there and went into cardiac arrest, but was resuscitated and transferred to Essentia Health-St. Mary's Medical Center in Duluth, his brother said.

The anthropology and sociology major suffered brain damage from the heart attack and remains comatose. Though he can open his eyes, squeeze his mother's hand, shrug his shoulders and has some movement in his legs, doctors have told the family it'll take a couple more years to find out how much more the 20-year-old will recover, Shahraiz Bajwa said.

A hospital spokeswoman said Shahzaib Bajwa won't be able to stay in the country legally after his student visa expires Feb. 28. Essentia has pressured the Bajwa family to sign consent forms to return the man to Pakistan, a flight that would take 24 hours, Shahraiz Bajwa said.

A hospital spokeswoman said Bajwa won't be able to stay in the country legally after his student visa expires Feb. 28.

"If we take him back to Pakistan this is certainly pushing him toward death," Shahraiz Bajwa said. "We don't want him to die in a miserable condition in a third-world country. It's better if he stays here."

It's not unusual for U.S. hospitals seeking to curb high costs to effectively deport foreign citizens back home, even when they're comatose, an Associated Press review found last year. Shahraiz Bajwa said the hospital bill has reached about $350,000.

Hospitals typically pay for the flights for these "medical repatriations," often without consulting any courts or federal agencies, the AP's review found.

Essentia spokeswoman Maureen Talarico said the hospital is making arrangements with the State Department to transport Shahzaib Bajwa to Pakistan.

"This is an unfortunate situation and his caregivers are working closely with Mr. Bajwa's family to ensure the smoothest transition possible," she said in an email.

Shahzaib Bajwa's health insurance policy through his exchange program has a cap of $100,000, and his brother said Essentia has chosen to absorb the costs and not tap that policy so the money would be available for his care in Pakistan.

The family's immigration attorney, Saiko McIvor, said they're exploring their legal options for finding a way for the man to stay.

"It's a really, really sad situation," McIvor said. She said the family, from Faisalabad in Punjab province, is not wealthy, so they'd have trouble paying for his care in Pakistan.

Shahraiz Bajwa said his brother's policy would cover only about three months of care back home.

"We are under huge and immense pressure," he said. "The window of time is very small."

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Rick Schoenherr February 12 2014 at 10:50 AM

Listen, Crap happens

Flag Reply +2 rate up
ukelaine February 12 2014 at 11:12 AM

Geez ! We have people here illegally, driving cars, going to school AND College, coming over to have babies and using the system and then you have a guy who came here LEGALLY and is in an Accident !
I don't think we'd even be having this conversation if he had come from another certain Country !!
Here is what you can do, send ALL the people in our Hospitals at this VERY moment who entered the Hospital when they were ALREADY illegal BACK to their Contries and THEN I'll agree with what the Hospital wishes to do ! Enough Already ! We already pay to cover all the others and at least this guy was LEGAL to begin with !

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2 replies
cptfritz ukelaine February 12 2014 at 11:55 AM

Right on

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deelex65 ukelaine February 12 2014 at 4:34 PM

that is a wonderful idea, why don't you try to make that happen!!!!!

Flag Reply 0 rate up
chuck February 12 2014 at 10:43 AM

so you just want us americans to pay for his dr bills and meds ? is that it?

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1 reply
Judith chuck February 12 2014 at 11:47 AM

Yes! It's the humane thing to do. He was here legally, a college student doing well, not breaking any laws, and is paying taxes. I hope the discussions with the State Department will result in his Visa being extended.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
moonfloat February 12 2014 at 10:28 AM

Very sad situation indeed. However, can't help but wonder who is footing the bill for this kid's care? If the family can't afford his care in Pakistan, how in the world are they paying for his care here? Or are the taxpayers paying for it? The only issue I have with this is there are SO many people, citizens of this country, who need medical care desperately but are denied it due to not being able to afford health care. How about taking care of people (esp children) in this country as well???

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Doug February 12 2014 at 8:51 AM

We are from the government and we are here to help you.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
aristocat101 February 12 2014 at 12:24 PM

He should be sent back and the millions of other illegals that are here should be too

Flag Reply +3 rate up
car nut February 12 2014 at 12:44 PM

If he was here legally, and paid his taxes, then treat him. But if his legal status becomes illegal, deport him. Every person has the chance to make their status legal, to bad if they didn't act fast enough. Sounds like we already paid for him to go to school -so what, now we have to pay his medical expenses. No wonder we are broke, taking care of everyone but ourselves. I could care less what other countries think of us. Quit looking at the US as a get away and paid life vacation for illegals!

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1 reply
I love Snickers car nut February 12 2014 at 8:57 PM

His brother Shahraiz Bajwa is quoted as saying. "We don't want him to die in a miserable condition in a third-world country. It's better if he stays here." ????????????????????????? Excuse me????? How the heck is it our fault that his country SUCKS and why is it OUR responsibility for US to be stuck with a comatose kid???? Hey, I'm an actual U.S.A. citizen and if I had a brain injury it would be better (no matter if my insurance was still in effect) if I was sent to John Hopkins Hospital since it is the very best neurology hospital in the U.S. - - - - better or not would the government send me there???? Not a chance in heck. Sorry for his bad luck but he ISN'T a U.S. citizen, he no longer has any insurance, the hospital has ALREADY written off $200,000 of his care, WHY should he be allowed to stay when we don't even know IF or WHEN he will even come out of the coma.

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1 reply
roseyoungstewart I love Snickers February 13 2014 at 12:51 AM

he'll be out by february 28th dont worry. There is legally nothing that will keep him here, unless of course you want to marry him, make him an automatic citizen.

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Scifly1 February 12 2014 at 2:43 PM

The article said, "McIvor said. She said the family, from Faisalabad in Punjab province, is not wealthy, so they'd have trouble paying for his care in Pakistan." So...are they paying their enormous bill in America or are the American Taxpayers?
Regardless, if his visa to America is up, it is time for him to go home unless there is some legal way for him to stay here. If they do stay here, they should have to pay the same bills I would if I were in his same medical position.

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2 replies
coxzuchre Scifly1 February 12 2014 at 8:16 PM

You wouldn't pay the bills, essentially once your assets were used up, medicaid would take over and your care would be assured, essentially transferring the costs to the taxpayer for care. The hospital should not be able to unilaterally deport the student. Deportation should occur only after due process of law----not through a decision of the hospital.

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roseyoungstewart Scifly1 February 13 2014 at 12:47 AM

so far no one has been billed that amount is the amount that hs been spent on him , so far. maybe you could win the lottery and pay his bills.

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meemeepit February 12 2014 at 7:17 PM

ARE WE THE MOST IGNORANT ??? he has a VISA??? but we do not DEPORT any any ILLEGAL entrants WEJUST GIVE THEM ANY F- - King things they NEED….WHY ARE so UPSIDE DOWN on everything we do and HOW we do it…..????

Flag Reply +2 rate up
ksmartin656 February 12 2014 at 9:42 AM

This is a very sad issue for a person here legally who will become illegal. That said, too many people come to the US or go to states where the aid is best and get treatment that taxpayers have to pay for. Where does it stop? We are going bankrupt with these costs.

Did you know that in some states Medicad "clients" are entitled to Viagra? Yes they are! Let's make more babies for our system to pay for!!! Nearly 50% of the children born in the US are Medicad babies!!! Growing number every day! I digress. This is a sad situation for everyone.

Sorry for any mis-spellings as there is no spell check on this!

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