Stuck in India with a broken spine
THE Australian Government will not intervene to fly former Rockhampton teacher George Dobson out of his Indian nightmare.
His ex-wife Therese, and four children, fear he will be turned out of the hospital helpless and stranded when his funds run out unless they can raise enough cash to fly him home.
The 65-year-old's daughter Liz Leahy said yesterday the family faced a race against the clock to find up to $250,000 to rescue him.
She said she had hoped the Australian Government would step in on humanitarian grounds.
“If the Government flies him home we can worry about paying the bill later,” she said.
But Federal Member for Rockhampton Kirsten Livermore's office confirmed yesterday that there was no precedent for repatriating accident victims.
A spokesman for the office said Ms Livermore was in constant touch with the family and the Foreign Minister's office about George's plight and consular staff in India were offering assistance. But the only time the Government had paid to bring people home was after terrorist attacks.
Liz said although she understood the Government's position the family was not looking for a handout and would repay the full cost of repatriation.
“I don't know exactly how the system works in India but we can't afford to keep him in hospital there indefinitely," she said.
"We just don't know what will happen when the money runs out. He might end up in a hostel, but without the use of his arms and legs he will need a high level of care. That's why the family's priority is to get him home.”
She said she spoke to her dad on Sunday - his 65th birthday.
“He was very weak and wanted to say how much he loved us all.
"When I spoke to him last week, when we first found out about his accident, he was very down and convinced he wasn't going to survive. He was saying his goodbyes.”
Liz, his youngest child, said the initial reaction from the family was to fly out to India to be at his bedside.
“But it wouldn't be a good use of our funds. We will need everything to pay for his return.”
Yesterday Liz spent much of the day helping to set up a website dedicated to informing people of George's situation.
The website should be up and running today with details of how people can assist. The site's address is www.bringgeorgeback.com.
George returned to India, where he was born and lived until his early teens, in April.
He stumbled and fell 15 metres down a mountain track in the northern town of Mussoorie.