LAHORE: Family and friends of a Pakistani student left comatose following a traffic accident in the United States have raised thousands of dollars for his treatment and launched an online petition to extend his visa.

Muhammad Shahzaib Bajwa, 20, has been in a coma since last November when a deer struck a car carrying him and friends from the city of Minneapolis back to the University of Wisconsin-Superior where he was spending a semester abroad.

His brother Shahraiz, who has come to the US to help, said the insurance company was pressing the family to sign off on returning Shahzaib to Pakistan once his visa runs out on February 28, threatening not to pay evacuation costs if the family refuses.

“My mother is not going to sign because that would be like killing her son with her own hand,” the elder Bajwa told AFP Wednesday, adding he feared his brother would not survive the 24-hour flight.

By Thursday afternoon, an online appeal ( created by Shahraiz to pay for his brother's ongoing medical costs and apply for a visa extension had raised more than $19,000 of its $100,000 target.

A petition created by a friend that calls on the United States to extend his visa has so far gathered over 1,000 signatures many of which came from Americans.

A spokeswoman from the foreign ministry said Pakistani officials had been in touch with the US State Department and were told extending Shahzaib's visa was “not a problem” if the family could raise funds for his care.

“The matter has been taken up with the State Department. Essentially visa extension is not a problem,” Tasnim Aslam said, adding his future course of care was now “up to the family”.

The Essentia Health-St. Mary's Medical Center in Duluth, Minnesota, has so far provided Shahzaib $350,000 worth of treatment for free.

The insurance company has an upper limit of $100,000 for the exchange programme, which it wants to use on his evacuation costs.

Shahzaib's uncle Ammanat Hussain Sahi told AFP his nephew was a bright student whose father had died leaving the family reliant on his pension and a small land holding they might need to sell to finance his treatment.

Sohail H Naqvi, vice chancellor of the the Lahore University of Management Sciences which Shahzaib attended, added: “He is a student of LUMS under its national outreach program, which offers scholarships to bright students from the families with limited resources.”

Shahzaib was well known on campus as a liberal activist who co-founded the university's first-ever Feminist Society, Nida Kirmani, one of his professors, told AFP.

“He was one of my best students, really committed to social justice,” she said, adding he was “outspoken in class in his support for feminism which is quite rare in Pakistan.”

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Comments are closed.

Comments (37)

February 13, 2014 8:40 am

Why do we even pay insurance if they are then forcing not to pay? May you recover soon. To the family please be strong and dont coe under pressure. All the best

February 13, 2014 8:57 am

Please give the contact for family, may be able to help monetarily or otherwise

February 13, 2014 9:17 am

Where are slogans of human rights now?

February 13, 2014 9:44 am

I understand how strict the US is in dealing with visas and statuses of foreign students and workers which certainly is a good thing.........BUT, they are in the middle of a debate to legalize more than 11 million illegal immigrants. They can't grant this poor kid another damn visa so that he can be treated in the US??? How crazy is that.

Dr Khan
February 13, 2014 10:13 am

Is VISA Status more imporatnt than human life?

Where are the human right organizations?

Ramesh Manghirmalani
February 13, 2014 12:22 pm

agreed. he should not be sent

Dr. Baig
February 13, 2014 12:32 pm

Without knowing details it's difficult to comment upon the medical aspect of this case but one thing I do know, insurance companies are ruthless and don't see the humane aspect rather their focus is business. It would be expected that once they reach their ceiling of money you are on your own. However, lots of people do fly via ordinary flights seriously sick as long as their medical requirements can be fulfilled. The care he gets in Pakistan is not a determining factor. But it saddens me to think on the one hand we slag off the Americans at every opportunity but when it comes to expertise, skill and care you're hanging on for dear life

February 13, 2014 1:00 pm

Nobody likes insurance companies, especially health insurance companies. They are out there just for profit.. One of the major goals of health insurance reform is to bring down the cost. Unfortunately this is not happening . in order to have the health policy effective the profit margin of pharmaceutical companies should be under check and balance.. welcome to America!!! wish you all the best and the best of luck.. hope you recover asap…

Umair Khalid
February 13, 2014 1:20 pm

Very sad. May Allah help you. Ameen!

February 13, 2014 1:40 pm

A painful situation for the family, indeed. My prayers are with him. Hope the young man is allowed to stay back in the USA and recovers fully before he is asked to leave for Pakistan.

February 13, 2014 3:22 pm

Very sad to hear about it. May God give him a new life and may he get out of coma. All my prayers with him.

S. A. M.
February 13, 2014 4:19 pm

very sad indeed but don't worry US takes care of not only its citizens but also have the heart to attend to the genuine woes of visitors. hope the young boy gets well soon.

February 13, 2014 4:20 pm

According to Pakistani citizen "whether he would receive quality care in Pakistan."This sentences presents an open challenge to Hospitals, Doctors and Medical professionals living and working in Pakistan that quality medical care is no longer available inside Pakistan anymore.

February 13, 2014 4:46 pm

These are gut wrenching decision that no mother should go through. Sorry that she and other family members are going through tumultuous time. I sincerely hope and pray that this wonderful individual makes full recovery and lead a normal life. .

February 13, 2014 4:54 pm

May Allah bless him with health

February 13, 2014 6:21 pm

What treatment? The guy has been comatose and on life support since Nov. 2013.

naeem syed
February 13, 2014 6:24 pm

We spend millions on our useless politicians, why cannot the PM and the Govt step up to the Plate and take care of this young mans life. Shame on our Governments all they care about is themselves.

Greek Tragedy
February 13, 2014 9:04 pm

There are many human interest stories, it seems this is one being given coverage on the basis of the delinquent ideology and beliefs of the comatose subject.

Wajahat Hussain
February 13, 2014 9:35 pm

May he live a long and happy prosperous life, Amen!

shaukat M Basit
February 13, 2014 10:07 pm

The article did not mention if someone wants to contribute,how and where they can contribute.This information can help this brilliant student to reach their mentioned target.If someone knows this info;please help this person in need,thanks.I only hope Allah bless him with a speedy recovery and a safe journey home. Inshallah.

Syed Ahmed
February 13, 2014 10:16 pm

We have people in Pakistan, like Mr. Mansh, Mr. Malik Riaz, Sharif Brothers, Mr. Zardari and numerous others who can singly or jointly handle all medical expenses of the brilliant boy in distress. My Allah give them “Taufiq” to participate in this noble cause.

syed ahmed
February 13, 2014 10:36 pm

Four months in coma! I pray he lives but one has to be realistic.

February 13, 2014 11:12 pm

Someone please take a lead and open a fund raising project on set a dollar amount and deadline and then spread the word to everyone you know. As soon as the dollar amount is reached, it will be transferred to his or his family account minus 2.5% fee by the website. Note: The key is to spread the word as soon as possible....

Mirza Malang
February 13, 2014 11:13 pm

They cannot technically stop his treatment no matter what unless there is a court order. The family may get billed for it later on but he may not be forced to leave as well as stop the treatment.

February 14, 2014 1:42 am

Again some exageration about anything from US. Regardless of insurance premium no body is ever refused emergency treatment like this also visa issuing system is not that crazy not to readjust in these circumtances...its still not third world country

February 14, 2014 4:04 am

@Dr Khan: If one guy is given free visa everybody will be asking for it.Everybody wants US visa now a days.Can you give employment to all unemployed Pakistanis inside Pakistan just because they were brilliant students in their University?

Amar duggal
February 14, 2014 5:08 am

This money will fall short, and if he does not come out of coma, the situation will still be the same. Family needs to consider negotiating with insurance, and taking the lum sum, and fly the kid back to Lahore. It seems, as if, doctors are giving up any hope,of .him coming out of coma. It is a very sad accident, and family needs to understand the implications, of insurance running out of the total coverage, and it will happen very soon, and than they will bitch about this therapy is not covered and that not covered. We have been through this, with a friend's mother terminally ill in Miami. If insurance can pay rest of the money to family in cash, along with the ticket, I think family need not wait. There is good chance, the boy can be kept alive for a long time, and come out of come one day as well.

Amar duggal
February 14, 2014 5:11 am

Sorry, I thought the coverage is at least a million dollars. My apologizes.

February 14, 2014 5:12 am

My all sympathies are with this young boy's family.I do not intend to hurt feelings of anybody.Is it not the responsibility of Government of Pakistan to come to rescue of it's citizen.Pay his hospital bills and arrange for his transfer if needed.We have one of the richest Prime Minister in the world.But when it comes to pay for his bill for medical treatment,for saving this talented young boy's life,they do not have courtesy to come forward and pay that hospital,who has spent 350,000.00 $ so far.We do not treat our own citizens free.It's shame for all of us.We are shameless ,we do not have any proud.

February 14, 2014 5:51 am

@akbar: They need US immigration and passport how can you help?

February 14, 2014 7:54 am

Some decisions in life are very hard. This unfortunate young man may not be able to get better by the world class treatment provided in the United States of America. Family is still in hope of a miracle, but if the physicians are hope less for his prognosis then modern medicine have done its part and it's time for prayers for a spiritual miracle. If doctors are not hopeful then family should not spend money for further treatment. It will totally waste instead should look how they can accommodate him in this condition. Some brain injuries are irreversible and damage is so severe that full recovery is never possible. I feel sorry for the young man and his family.

February 14, 2014 8:47 am

My sympathies are with the kid and his family, hopefully he will have full recovery. As far as his stay in the US is concerned, the article mentions that US authorities have indicated that visa extension is not a problem as long as the cost of his care is provided by his family, obviously their concern is the cost of care which could be very high in these circumstances, in my opinion this is a very humane and fair decision. Pakistani government should step in to foot the bill, after all this kid is a Pakistani citizen.

February 14, 2014 2:37 pm

Please donate to help this young coma victim:

This is about saving a young man's life. The accident happened in USA, he should get medical care in USA. Transporting him on a difficult, 24-hour journey to a 3-month hospital stay in Pakistan is a death sentence.

Please help him:

February 14, 2014 4:03 pm

Get well soon kid

Mekal Faruki
February 15, 2014 3:02 am

Bajwa family need to be advised that under US insurance law he has to receive medical treatment from either his own insurer or the insurer of the other vehicle. Bajwa family also need to be advised that Shahzaib may be entitled to hundreds of thousands of dollars to compensate him for his injuries and lost wages. It is illegal for the insurers to threaten him with deportation to gain a forced insurance settlement. The US Attorney General can waive deportation on compassionate grounds.

February 15, 2014 7:59 am

@Dr Khan: laws my dear, USA is a land of laws unlike pakistan

February 15, 2014 6:47 pm

@Khan: hi, a very sad incident indeed. but you feel the same way when your country or army sends its men to kill people on the other side of the border. please ponder about it !!!!!!!!!!!

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