If Sadeepa Munasinghe returns to Sri Lanka she will die. In 2004, Sadeepa Munasinghe moved to the U.S. to study medicine. After a year of excellent grades, she grew gravely ill and the doctors were baffled. For months, Sadeepa’s health grew worse until she could barely eat, sleep or walk. Finally, in 2005 she was diagnosed with Wilson’s disease, a rare genetic disorder that causes the accumulation of copper in the eyes, brain, kidneys and liver. Untreated, it is fatal. And there is absolutely no treatment in her home country, Sri Lanka. At the Wilson’s Disease Association’s recommendation, Sadeepa sought treatment at the University of Michigan. She spent 45 days at U of M Hospital fighting for her life, bedridden and attached to feeding and peg tubes.
Despite Sadeepa’s severe motor disabilities, she remained a full-time student and graduated from Eastern Michigan University with honors. However in order to maintain legal status, Sadeepa is forced to remain a full-time student. “The U.S. is forcing me to be a lifelong student or lose my legal status. Without legal status, I will be disqualified from receiving medical treatment and could be sent back to Sri Lanka where there is no treatment for Wilson’s.”
Aside from being a good student, Sadeepa is a model citizen. She has constantly maintained legal status. Through volunteer work at a soup kitchen, temple, and various churches, her faith has inspired many.
With access to treatment and therapy, Sadeepa can live a long and healthy life. The introduction of a private bill to secure permanent residence for Sadeepa would allow her to complete her Master’s degree, obtain full-time employment, and support herself. In 2012, a private bill was introduced and passed which secured permanent residence for a Nigerian national so that he could enroll in a U.S. medical school.
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