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Hospitalized exchange student can stay in US


The brother of a Pakistani exchange student in a coma since a November car crash says diplomats have arranged to let him stay in the U.S. for continued medical care, the Associated Press reports.

Muhammad Shahzaib Bajwa is an exchange student at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. His family had complained that Essentia Health-St. Mary's Medical Center in Duluth, Minn., pressured them to agree to his return to Pakistan because his visa was about to expire. Bajwa's future was uncertain for weeksbecause of the status of his visa.

His brother Shahraiz Bajwa tells The Associated Press that Pakistan's consul general in Chicago told him his brother's visa is no longer an issue, and an insurance company will pay for long-term care in the Duluth area.

The State Department said last week it was working with the hospital, family, exchange program sponsors and Pakistan's embassy to help the student and his family and make sure he got the best care.

Consulate officials didn't immediately return a message, and a hospital spokeswoman would only say that Bajwa remains in fair condition.

Such “medical repatriations” of foreign ­citizens are “widespread but barely publicized,” according to a 2012 report by two advocacy groups. Hospitals put ill, injured or even comatose patients on flights to their home countries, often without consulting federal agencies. A spokeswoman for Essentia Health said it had been ­working with the U.S. State Department, which initially rejected a request to extend Bajwa’s visa.

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