A 9-year-old British boy’s travel visa could expire before he is scheduled to finish cancer treatments this spring in Kansas City, the boy’s family announced through social media this week.
Alexander Goodwin’s parents are scrambling to try to fix that problem.
“Devastating news today that our immigration status only allows Alex to stay until April,” a post on his twitter account, @alexs_journey, announced Thursday. “He won’t finish treatment until end of June.”
Many of Alex’s followers on social media are flooding his Twitter and Facebook accounts in support of the United States’ letting him stay. His parents have talked to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Alex, a nature lover who has enjoyed learning about Midwestern birds and animals, came to Kansas City in December looking for the best treatment for his Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare cancer that doctors in the United Kingdom failed to diagnose for nearly six months. He has become known as well for his trademark upbeat video messages, which often end with him wishing everyone a good day.
Surgeons at the University of Kansas Hospital removed his cancerous femur in January, along with his right hip, knee, upper shin bone and some muscles and other soft tissue. Doctors at Children’s Mercy Hospital have been following up with chemotherapy.
Continuing physical therapy for Alex’s leg, which doctors rebuilt using man-made parts, and additional chemo treatments are planned.
“We arrived in the U.S. on a visa waiver,” his father, Jeff Goodwin, said in a written statement released Friday. “We traveled on short notice to meet Alexander’s immediate medical needs. The original plan was for his treatment to finish at the end of February and then we would fly back to the United Kingdom.
“Due to information about his health obtained in the last few weeks … it is necessary for us to continue with the treatment here to best maximize his chances of survival and enrich his life in the longer term. This treatment plan requires us to stay until the end of June and then return periodically for further treatment into his teenage life.”
That future treatment includes another surgery, possibly next January, to lengthen Alex’s right leg.
“Our original period of stay was booked to the 13th of March, but we managed to obtained a 30-day extension until the 13th of April from the Department of Homeland Security USCIS,” Jeff Goodwin’s statement said. “We are currently meeting with representatives who have pledged to do everything humanely possible to resolve this matter.”
Many in law enforcement and others in the community have embraced the Goodwins. Some have offered housing, while others have raised funds through bake sales and a T-shirt sales campaign.
Their work supplements other fund-raising in the United Kingdom, where Jeff Goodwin works in law enforcement. The family lives in the village of Dunton Bassett, northwest of London.
“We appreciate the calls and public support,” Goodwin said Friday. “Thank you for all your generosity.”