'It's time I don't have' - Man with motor neurone disease appeals for partner's visa

Andrew Chambers was diagnosed last October is now wheelchair-bound
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

18.45 26 Jan 2023

Share this article

'It's time I don't have' - Man...

'It's time I don't have' - Man with motor neurone disease appeals for partner's visa

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

18.45 26 Jan 2023

Share this article

An Irish man diagnosed with motor neurone disease has appealed to allow his partner come to Ireland to care for him.

Andrew Chambers was diagnosed last October, and said his rapidly deteriorating condition means he is now wheelchair-bound.

His partner Sian, who he calls the love of his life, lives in Laos. Sian is prevented from coming to Ireland as he needs a visa.


Andrew said Justice Minister Simon Harris's office has agreed to approve a tourist visa with the minimum of documentation.

Andrew told The Hard Shoulder that visa only lasts for three months.

"My concern now is that the next stage for me is that I'm likely to lose the ability to move my arms," he said.

"Today moving myself in and our of the wheelchair all today, my arms feel a bit like lead.

"I'm a bit obsessed about them - every time there's a twitch or a pain, I'm wondering is that the start of me losing movement in my arms?

"Am I going to be end up being totally immobilie sooner rather than later?"

'Five years seems like a good deal'

Andrew said even his doctors are surprised at the progression of the disease.

"The form of motor neurone disease I have is called flail leg, it's a rare of form of it, and it's supposed to be slower progressing.

"They were talking about a median survival rate of about five years.

"I'm only 43; five years seems like a good deal, I suppose.

Sian and Andrew on their travels. Picture: Supplied

"Last Thursday when I went into the doctor, they were very surprised that the rate it sped up since I saw them last October.

"It's only now sinking in - I don't know what's going to happen - but maybe that I might not see out the end of the year.

"It's made it much more critical that I get my partner over to be with me".

Six years together

Andrew said the problem is that Sian needs a visa to travel almost anywhere.

"You need a visa pretty much to go anywhere from Laos," he said.

"We've been trying to get him over by applying for visas for the last number of years since we've been going out.

"We'll be together six years this July.

"The visa process for Ireland is arbitrary and difficult to get a visa for here."

'I'm not sure I'll be here'

He said they put things on hold during COVID-19 for two and a half years.

"We just kept in contact on WhatsApp video calls and all that kind of stuff," he said.

"We thought this year again... we'd relook at what we could do to be together longer term".

Andrew said a tourist visa would require a lot of documentation, financial statements and translations.

"In the normal course of things, waiting three months to get a visa approved is a long, long time," he said.

Sian and Andrew. Picture: Supplied

"In my current situation, I'm not making plans for March or April.

"I'm sure I'm going to be here, but I'm not making plans that far ahead.

"Even extra weeks or days to apply for a visa: it's just time I don't have.

"It's time I want to spend with Sian as well.

"A large part of my time is spent fighting for a visa to get Sian over here as well.

"It's eating up the time I have left - the time I won't get to spend with Sian, and also it's eating the time I should be spending with family and friends".

Sian and Andrew in Thailand. Picture: Supplied

Andrew said he wants Sian here before his quality of life deteriorates too much.

"At the moment I do have some quality of life, but the fear is when he comes over - if he gets over here - that I'm unable to do the simple things.

"I'm not looking to go abseiling... I want him to meet my mother and father, he's never met them before," he said as his voice broke.

"My brother and my sister, my two nieces, all my friends and family.

"I just want to do the simple things most other couples take for granted, and whatever time I have left I want to spend my time doing that," he added.

Main image: Sian and Andrew. Picture by: Supplied

Share this article

Read more about

Andrew Chambers Justice Minister Motor Neurone Motor Neurone Disease Sian Simon Harris The Hard Shoulder Visa

Most Popular