HONOLULU (KHNL) - A newborn flies to Oahu for heart surgery, and doesn't make it past the airport.
Lua Futi recalls being happy when she boarded the flight to Honolulu last Friday morning because it meant her baby could get medical care that wasn't available in Samoa.
But shortly after landing here, that joy turned into devastation.
14 days after the birth of her miracle child, Lua Futi's baby was gone.
"She's sad. She's heart-broken. She can't eat. She can't sleep," says Simamao Nofoa, Futi's Cousin.
Two-week-old Michael was the child she and her husband thought they couldn't have.
He was scheduled to have a hole in his heart repaired at the Kapiolani Medical Center in Honolulu, and his family says his long-term prognosis was good.
But upon arrival, the newborn, his mother and a traveling nurse were detained by customs agents because of a possible problem with the mother's visa waiver form.
"Even though the nurse is saying, if there is a problem with the mother, let us go to the hospital, they put all three of them in a room," Rick Fried, Futi Family Attorney.
He says after 30 minutes in the warm room, the baby became unresponsive.
"The door is locked. They can not get out. And both she and the mother were starting to scream, call 9-1-1." says Fried.
Fried is filing what's called a notice of claim against the U.S.Government. That triggers a six-month investigation, after which a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed.
"If they would have been released, her son would have been still alive," adds Fried.
The contact person for U.S. Customs in Honolulu did not return our phone calls.