A Nigerian woman, who was deported from Ireland on July 15, may die “within a year or two” as she will not be able to receive suitable care for her life-threatening cancer in her home country.
Officials were warned in June that sending the woman back to Nigeria would be “tantamount to a death sentence”, according to a consultant hematologist at University Hospital Galway, Professor Michael O’Dwyer. Nonetheless Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern signed the deportation papers for the woman and her young daughter, in the knowledge that the woman had an aggressive strain of leukemia.
Professor O’Dwyer said in a letter than deporting the woman was “truly shocking, heartless and barbaric”.
The woman was diagnosed with leukemia two years ago. Her life expectancy was three to five years, without treatment. Doctors tried a treatment called lmatinib, which is referred to as “the magic bullet” of cancer treatment. It had no effect.
Professor O’Dwyer then put the woman on Nilotinib, an expensive treatment. It proved successful and her leukemia went into remission.
In Professor O’Dwyer’s letter he said that “as an internationally recognized CML (leukemia) expert”, he had little doubt the woman “would not be able to access [the drug] it in Nigeria where the expertise in CML management simply does not exist”.
Last weekend Professor O’Dwyer told the Irish Times that he was shocked to hear the woman had been deported. He said “I would be very worried that without getting this ongoing treatment, she could be dead within a year or two.”
Documents from the Department of Justice show that her medical condition was considered before she was deported. The woman’s lawyers claim that the deportation breaches the European Convention on Human Rights. They say that her treatment constitutes inhumane or degrading treatment.
The Department also took into account the fact that she had travelled to Italy on false documentation. They declined comment saying that they did not comment on individual cases.
In 2007 the woman came to Ireland and lived in a hostel in Galway. Her daughter was born in Ireland. She applied for refugee status but her application was refused.
The woman is now believed to be in Nigeria but her exact location is unknown.