Nightmare in India
A STUMBLE on a mountain path in Northern India has wrecked the life of former Rockhampton teacher George Dobson.
As he lies in a hospital bed in Delhi, where he underwent 12 hours of surgery on his damaged spine, his ex-wife and four children in Rockhampton face a massive fund-raising effort to pay for his treatment.
Therese Dobson says the family has already sent $30,000 to India and might have to find a further $250,000 to fly him home.
“The $30,000 is almost gone. We had to pay it up-front before he could have the surgery, but he remains very ill and has lost the use of his arms and legs,” she said.
Although George, who spent most of his teaching career working with disabled children in Rockhampton, is an Australian citizen, he has to pay for his own medivac repatriation to Australia. He had no travel insurance.
“It's a complete nightmare. I don't know where the money will come from,” said Therese.
“I just want to get the message across that people should not travel out of Australia without insurance because this is what can happen and this is how expensive it can be.”
She said George fell about 15 metres after tripping on the steep mountain track in a town called Mussoorie on August 16.
“The first we knew about his plight was a telephone call in the early hours of the morning a couple of days later. Someone had to hold the phone to his ear.
“It's vital we get him home. His life as a quadraplegic is going to be so hard and he needs the support of his family and continuing medical care here in Australia.”
Therese says she's been helped by Barry Thomson of the Queensland Teachers' Union in Rockhampton and she praised Federal Member Kirsten Livermore for her efforts to assist.
“I was just completely lost. I didn't know what to do or where to turn but Barry and Kirsten could not have been more helpful. Since Kirsten intervened the Department of Foreign Affairs has been in constant touch and the High Commission in India has been marvellous.”
She said the High Commission had put her in touch with International SOS - a company specialising in flying home patients in need of acute medical care.
But the potential cost was a shock.
“A medivac flight will cost $250,000, but even a commercial flight with medical assistance will be $75,000 and we don't know how we are going to pay for that.”
Mr Thomson, a family friend, has agreed to act as an appeal co-ordinator.
If anyone would like to help George and his family they should call him at the union's office in Rockhampton on 4920 4200.
George was born in India, where his parents worked as missionaries, and he lived there until he was a teenager.
He left Rockhampton in April to spend time in India.
Therese said although the couple were divorced they remained close friends.
His four children all live in and around Rockhampton.