February 21, 2024

ANTIOCH – A brand new kidney is all that stands between Govinda Regmi and a life freed from seemingly infinite dialysis that has left him unable to work or journey and infrequently too sick to go to household or mates.

However to proceed his remedies and get on an inventory for a kidney transplant, Regmi should first get hold of correct immigration standing. It’s a slow-moving bureaucratic course of, and assist might be years away.

“I’m ready and ready for all the things,” stated Regmi, whereas curled up on a chair midway by way of his three-and-a-half-hour hemodialysis therapy on a current afternoon at a home the place he has been dwelling in Antioch.

The 36-year-old Nepali native and former accountant virtually misplaced all hope practically three years earlier when he discovered that he had a uncommon genetic liver illness that couldn’t be handled in his house nation. He and spouse, Mira Basnet, his caregiver and a registered nurse, had gone to India for higher medical care, however with the brand new analysis and potential want for each a brand new kidney and liver, they returned to Nepal.

They had been out of labor, out of cash and had nowhere to show.

That’s till an Antioch mother, Kristi Ouimet and her husband, Kelly, met Regmi on social media, supplied to let the couple keep of their house and linked them with UCSF docs for the dialysis he requires as he awaits a brand new kidney. The Ouimets are all too conversant in Regmi’s wrestle: Two of their kids, Carswell and Matthew, are battling the identical severe illness, known as major hyperoxaluria kind I, which frequently causes recurrent kidney stones and finally organ failure.

Kristi Ouimet, left, takes Mira Basnet buying on the Nu Delhi Bazaar market the place she finds Nepali noodles in Antioch, Calif., on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024. Kristi and her husband Kelly Ouimet have taken in Mira and her husband Govinda Regmi from Nepal since Govinda has a uncommon illness known as major hyperoxaluria Kind I, which two of the Ouimet’s kids even have. (Jane Tyska/Bay Space Information Group) 

“I by no means thought that might be occurring in our life,” Basnet, 30, stated of her new house with the Ouimets.

However Kristi Ouimet is just not one to be underestimated. When she discovered in regards to the couple’s state of affairs, she started working advocating for them to get the right documentation to return to the USA, agreeing to offer shelter and help as Regmi sought therapy.

“I’ve a service coronary heart. I wish to assist,” stated Ouimet, who like her husband is a retired police officer. “In the event you don’t have it, it’s laborious for somebody to elucidate it.”

Regmi, who has whole kidney failure, now receives injections of an investigational drugs for compassionate use that he hopes will preserve him from having to have a liver transplant. The Ouimets’ daughter, Carswell, is taking the identical drugs, known as Rivfloza, which the FDA just lately authorized.

However two-and-a-half years after coming to the U.S., the Nepali couple at the moment are dealing with extra roadblocks that would hinder Regmi’s skill to get a kidney transplant. They each got here right here on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Providers’ Humanitarian Parole program, and now they want an extension to remain.

“We’re assured that getting Govinda to America saved his life, however our journey has stalled out with issues in extending their skill to stick with present documentation,” Kristi Ouimet stated.

For the previous 19 months, Kristi Ouimet has labored to safe the right papers to proceed Regmi’s remedies, hoping he quickly can get on an inventory for a donor kidney. Due to his B blood kind, it might take years, she stated. Throughout this time, her personal kids — Carswell, now 21, and Matthew, 12 — underwent kidney transplants inside a day of one another, a part of a years-long medical journey chronicled by this newspaper.

Missing the liver enzyme wanted to correctly get rid of waste, Matthew had develop into unwell when simply 5 months previous and needed to bear dialysis and a double liver/kidney transplant at two-and-a-half years previous. However over time, his kidney started failing, and he and his sister wound up needing transplants in April of 2022. On the similar time, the Antioch mom was serving to the Nepali couple, whom she considers household, attempt to renew their immigration paperwork that spring and once more in August of 2022. In September of that yr, they discovered that the applying had been accepted and the test for $1,200 had been cashed.

At their facet has been the workplace of U.S. Rep Mark DeSaulnier, D-Harmony, which has helped navigate the difficult software processes to safe assist for Regmi. The congressman beforehand helped a Harmony girl with a uncommon medical situation, Maria Isabel Bueso, who was right here on a medical deferred motion program. Going through deportation to Guatemala, DeSaulnier authored a invoice in 2022 that gave Bueso everlasting residency so she might proceed therapy for her life-threatening illness.

However 19 months after making use of for humanitarian parole, Regmi nonetheless hasn’t heard the place he stands. And now due to redistricting, their new consultant is U.S. John Garamendi, D-Fairfield. His workplace hasn’t obtained any phrase, both — solely that the applying is “pending.”

A USCIS spokesman stated the U.S. is presently receiving an “extraordinarily excessive quantity” of requests for humanitarian parole, and petitioners ought to count on delays.

Medi-Cal will cowl Regmi’s future kidney transplant prices at UCSF, and his spouse now has the right certificates and licenses to have the ability to work as a registered nurse within the U.S. Basnet has had a number of job provides from corporations that might sponsor her for a inexperienced card, Ouimet stated, however along with her standing pending, she will be able to’t transfer ahead.

For now, Basnet, who was an intensive care unit nurse in Nepal, has discovered the best way to give her husband dialysis at house, a course of that takes hours of preparation, to not point out statement and care. Receiving dialysis at house helps preserve her now-frail husband from feeling anxious, she stated.

“It’s ache, nervousness, not solely bodily ache, but in addition psychological ache,” she stated, noting she tries to maintain him distracted throughout powerful occasions of dialysis.

Within the meantime, Kristi Ouimet is organising a nonprofit in hopes of serving to others navigate the tough journey of discovering correct medical care. She paid for and accompanied Basnet on a current whirlwind journey to the Nepal embassy in Washington D.C., the one place the Nepali native might get her passport renewed.

“I can’t simply sit there and never do one thing,” she stated. “I’ve perception that you could solely get from private expertise, and my distinctive perception to what we’ve skilled and the hardships we confronted.”

Whereas in limbo, Regmi desires of taking lessons so he can work within the IT discipline when his well being is healthier. Basnet hopes some day to work as a hemodialysis nurse to assist alleviate a few of the struggling her husband, now barely 105 kilos, has skilled.

Kelly Ouimet is educating the Nepali couple the best way to drive. He takes them to their medical appointments, giving Kristi time to give attention to navigating medical points, reply inquiries about organ transplants and first hyperoxaluria, promote blood drives and assist present emotional help to Regmi and Basnet in an often-discouraging world.

“She is sort of a mom to me and my husband,” Basnet stated.

For her half, Kristi Ouimet says it’s a “no-brainer” to assist somebody in want — regardless of all she has on her plate.

“They’ve the precise, they usually matter,” she stated. “Everyone deserves an opportunity.”