February 28, 2011

Gillibrand, NY Legal Assistance Group Help Cancer-Stricken Woman
from Haiti Receive Life-Saving Treatment in NYC
Haitian Woman in Fight of Her Life Reunites with New York Family,
Will Receive Radiation Therapy at New York City Medical Facility

New York, NY – While a 42 year-old Haitian woman suffers from stage 3 breast cancer, she has been unable to get the critical medical treatment needed to save her life because the only radiation facility in Port-au-Prince was leveled in the devastating earthquake. U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG), a non-profit law office dedicated to helping low-income New Yorkers, announced today that they have secured the woman’s humanitarian parole to the United States, enabling the mother of two children to receive potentially life-saving radiation therapy in New York City. Ms. Ollenare Desrosiers is scheduled to arrive in New York City from Haiti this evening. While she receives care, she will be living with her father, a United States citizen, who resides in Brooklyn, NY.

“I am relieved to hear that Ollenare will finally get the life-saving care that she so desperately needs,” said Senator Gillibrand. My prayers go out to Ollenare and her family as she fights for her life.
Now that the cameras are gone, we cannot leave the Haitian people behind. We must remain steadfast in our mission to see Haiti recover, overcome and succeed.”

“We are extremely proud to be able to play a role in giving Ollenare the opportunity to receive this life saving treatment, and we would not have been able to succeed without the assistance of Senator’s Gillibrand’s office and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services,” said Irina Matiychenko, Director of the Immigrant Protection Unit at NYLAG. “I also want to thank the two staff attorneys on this case, Melissa Chua and Jin Sun Park, for their outstanding work.”

“Our family is really grateful to have Ollenare in the U.S., where she has a chance. It is really a great step that can save her life or give her a longer life,” said Lorguine Desrosiers, Ollenare’s sister. “We are grateful for U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand for making sure that Ollenare arrives to the U.S. We are thankful to the New York Legal Assistance Group for all their help and everyone else who helped us in their prayers or encouragement.”

Several months after the Haiti earthquake in September 2010, 42 year-old Ollenare Desrosiers was diagnosed with breast cancer. The only medical facility in Haiti that provides radiation treatment was destroyed during the earthquake. Ms. Desrosiers has already undergone a full mastectomy but without complete chemotherapy and radiation, her stage 3 breast cancer is at grave risk of spreading.

With NYLAG’s assistance, Ms. Desrosiers’ father Lucane Desrosiers filed a request for humanitarian parole last October with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Since Ms. Desroseirs’ condition was deteriorating, NYLAG contacted Senator Gillibrand for help. Senator Gillibrand urged USCIS to expedite Ms. Desrosiers’ humanitarian parole request as soon as possible. USCIS recently approved Ms. Desrosiers’ request, which will allow her to enter the U.S. and remain for one year.

Ms. Desrosiers will be receiving treatment at a radiation center in New York City. Her brother Luckins Desrosiers from Buffalo, NY has agreed to cover necessary costs and care.

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The New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) provides free civil legal services to New Yorkers who cannot afford private attorneys. Founded in 1990 on the premise that low-income individuals can improve their lives significantly if given access to the justice system, NYLAG has a comprehensive range of services and core practice areas. For more information, go to www.nylag.org.