EAST ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Emotions were running high Monday following a reunion on Long Island.
A grandmother from China was finally allowed to travel to the United States to visit her terminally ill granddaughter, a story CBS 2 first reported last month.
It was a heartbreaking sight to see 16-month-old Angel hooked up to machines to prolong her life, but her parents received a small measure of comfort because the child’s grandmother was finally at her side.
“We definitely wanted to see grandma see baby Angel before she passed away,” the baby’s father, Glenn Hollins, told CBS 2′s Carolyn Gusoff.
Guyang Zwe’s long journey from China has an even longer back story.
The baby has Sandhoff disease, a rare condition that destroys brain cells. The Hollins’ desperately wanted their child’s only grandparent to meet her before it was too late, but the grandmother’s visa was denied three times by the U.S. consulate.
“She had plenty of ties that she would go back to China, but they thought differently,” Glenn Hollins said.
That’s when CBS 2 got involved, reaching out to lawmakers. A week later, the grandmother’s visa, allowing visits for one year, was granted. She arrived Friday night at Kennedy Airport to hugs and tears.
“I am glad she can give me comfort and can just spend time with Angel,” said the baby’s mother, Anna He-Hollins. “She can be here for my support when I need her.”
Getting Guyang Zwe to the United States was truly a community effort. Anna He Hollins’ co-workers flooded Sen. Chuck Schumer’s office with e-mails and her company paid for the flight.
Congressman Steve Israel helped get the denial overturned.
“The tragedy shouldn’t have been compounded by a bureaucratic decision to make it harder for this baby’s grandmother to come from China and be with her when she needs her the most,” Israel said.
It was a bittersweet reunion — one for which the Hollins’ said they will be eternally grateful.
“It’s wonderful to have grandma here. We’ve been waiting for so long to have her here. It’s wonderful. Thank you Carolyn and CBS 2 news,” Glenn Hollins said.
The Hollins said they know they have little time left, but they now have their family together. Angel’s illness is in the family of Tay-Sachs disease. The national Tay-Sachs organization also lobbied for the visit.
Do you think this grandmother’s situation highlights shortcomings regarding U.S. visa procedures? Share your thoughts in the comments section below…