90-year-old Ganna Chyzhevska, suffering from dementia and heart disease, is scheduled to be deported to Ukraine on Tuesday afternoon, after all efforts by her family to keep her with them in Sweden have failed.
”She stayed over at my house yesterday and woke up screaming in the middle of the night, but I managed to calm her down,” granddaughter Anna Otto told The Local on Tuesday morning.
According to Otto, her grandmother doesn't quite understand what is happening to her.
”She sleeps a lot. And she can't believe anyone would take her away from her own daughter,” Otto said.
When Chyzhevska’s husband died of cancer eight years ago, her daughter and granddaughter, resident in Sweden since 1995 and Swedish citizens, applied for residency on her behalf based on family connections.
Her application has been denied seven times by the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket
), despite Chyzhevska being in poor health and her family in Sweden wanting to care for her.
The most recent appeal, when Chyzhevska and her family were given a two-week reprieve to be able to prove that she is too old and ill to be moved from her family, was turned down by the Migration Board.
Ingvar Karlsson, expert on dementia, from the Sahlgrenska Hospital in Gothenburg, wrote in his review of Chyzhevska's case that her confusion is likely to become irreversible and potentially lethal to the nonagenarian woman.
But the medical counsel that the Migration Board used did not think that this was enough to keep her in the country.
”They said that as it isn't her present condition but how it will become more serious if she is moved that is the problem; this argument won't hold,” Otto said.
According to Otto, no preparations have been made in the Ukraine to meet her grandmother when she gets off the flight.
”No, no one will be there to meet her. First the [Migration] Board told me it was none of their business what happened at the other end. Later, they asked me to accompany her there, but I can't,” Otto said.
The long process has left Otto shaken but determined to make as many people as possible know how the Migration Board has handled the case.
”I have believed the whole time that it will work out in the end. But it isn't about just my grandmother any more, they have treated many others just as abominable,” said Otto.
As a last resort, Otto will attempt to talk to the airline which operates the flight her grandmother is scheduled to board on Tuesday afternoon, and inform them of her condition.
”I have brought with me the medical certificates and I am hoping that the air personnel will refuse to let her board the plane,” Otto told The Local on Tuesday morning from a taxi bound for the airport.
According to the medical experts consulted by the family, Chyzhevska's dementia means that she is likely to react strongly and aggressively to being removed from all that is familiar to her.
”To me it is clear that Ganna in the case of deportation very likely will enter a state of severe confusion. To let a confused, motorically impaired and potentially aggressive person travel by air is not possible,” wrote Karlsson.
He also pointed out that sedatives are not an option, as dementia patients get more confused if sedatives are given.
The rules of the Ukrainian airline, Aerosvit, state that if there are reasons to presume that a passenger requires special aid from the airline, or if the the passenger is likely to cause discomfort or danger to themselves or other passengers, the airline has the right to deny the passenger to board the flight.
”If the airline follow their own rules they can't actually let her board the plane,” Otto said.
However, by the early afternoon Otto had not managed to get anyone to look at the medical certficates she had brought with her.
The next step, after making another attempt at the airline, Otto's intends to appeal to the Migration Board for her grandmother to be allowed to stay an additional two months in Sweden.
”Then it will all be about preparations. She'll need a TB-vaccine before going, and I will have to try to make arrangements to go with her,” Otto said.
Otto, resident in Sweden for over 15 years, does not want to leave the country.
”I have built my life here and would have to start from scratch finding accommodation and a job. Not to mention that I have a baby son. It won't be the easiest, trying to convince his Swedish father that we should all move to the Ukraine. It is not a desirable change, let's put it that way,” she told The Local.
The deportation of the soon-to-be 91-year-old Chyzhevska has been criticised by the Swedish Red Cross, urging the agency to retry their decision.
"It feels both absurd and inhumane to deport a 91-year-old who hasn't got a single member of family in her country of origin," wrote Ingela Holmertz of the Swedish Red Cross (Svenska Röda Korset
) in a statement.
The Swedish Dementia Association (Demensförbundet
) also issued a statement in support of Chyzhevska's case.
"Ganna probably hasn't got that much longer to live, let her spend her last years with family, let her die with dignity," wrote chairwoman Stina-Clara Hjulström.
Supporters of the Chyzhevska case were being urged through Facebook and Twitter to join a protest at Arlanda
airport at 1pm on Tuesday.
The flight bound for the Ukraine is scheduled to leave Stockholm
Arlanda Airport at 3.55pm on Tuesday.