Victor Chukwueke, a Nigerian immigrant, came to the United States to undergo treatment for massive face tumors 11 years ago. He has lived in Michigan under an expired visa, but President Barack Obama signed a private bill on December 18 that will grant him permanent residency in the United States, the first of this kind to pass in Congress in two years.
When living in Michigan with Rev. Mother Mary Paul Offiah, of the Daughters of Mary Mother of Mercy cared for Chukweuke, who lost his eye to the tumors and has undergone seven surgeries.
In Nigeria, Chukwueke was left at an orphanage after his family took him to the nation’s best facilities for treatment of neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder that causes life-threatening tumors. The 26-year-old was thrilled with the news of his green card, which will allow him to attend the University of Toledo’s medical school. He previously attended Wayne State University in Detroit majoring in chemical biology and biochemistry with a 3.82 grade-point average.
“My own personal struggles to receive treatment have motivated and encouraged me to pursue a medical career … to alleviate the pain and suffering of others,” he told CNN. “A medical career will allow me many gratifying years of making a difference in the health and lives of others.”
Attorney Thomas K. Ragland took Chukwueke’s case pro bono because he was inspired by the story of struggle and perseverance.
The visa that Chukweuke obtained to come to the United States expired 10 years ago, and he was under the threat of being deported until July, when the bill passed the Senate.