Family hope doctors can help seriously ill local father

Francis flown home and then rushed to RVH

By Francesca Ryan

WEST Belfast man Francis McDonald is back home after an horrific six-week ordeal in Thailand. Last week we reported how the Springfield man was left languishing in a Bangkok high-rise flat after he took ill and his family were unable to pay the spiralling costs of his  hospital treatment.

Francis was left stranded after the hospital refused to give him a platelet transfusion that would enable him to fly home for treatment on a brain haemorrage unless the bill was paid in full.  Disoriented, confused and gravely ill, Francis spent the past two weeks in his son’s flat without any medical help.

The family’s plight touched many across West Belfast and beyond after the story appeared in this paper and people have been donating to the Francis McDonald Fund to meet the £8,500 cost of his hospital bill.

This week the Thai school that employs the sick man’s son Frankie stepped forward as guarantor for the cost of the flight and pre-flight treatment.  This enabled Frankie to organise the platelet transfusion for his father so they could both fly home. Yesterday afternoon (Wednesday), the pair touched down in Dublin where they met close family members who rushed Francis straight to the Royal Victoria Hospital for emergency treatment.

Last night Francis’ son Kevin gave the Andersonstown News an update on the family’s nightmare, which is hopefully coming to an end.

“This has been the longest journey,” he said.  “I couldn’t wait to see my father and get him into the car and back to Belfast where we could get him treatment at the Royal.

“It was a big risk taking daddy home because of potential complications but we had to get him back here no matter what.  He didn’t recognise me and is in and out of consciousness but we hope he can get the treatment he needs to recover. We are just so relieved to have him back home and they are giving him platelets and doing tests, the staff here at the Royal have been great.”

Despite the relief, Kevin said the family has been left  seething that the Irish Consulate in Bangkok did next to nothing to aid them.

“The Consulate was no help at all,” he said.  “My brother is so angry with them and I understand Paul Maskey’s office are lodging an official complaint about this situation. I can’t believe they would do nothing to help an Irish citizen who is seriously ill and stranded in a foreign country. We didn’t want their money, we just wanted help and advice. Foreigners on the flight were showing more concern for daddy than the Irish Consulate did, that says it all.”

Despite the family’s claims, a spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs insists the family was helped.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is providing consular assistance in this case through its Honorary Consulate in Bangkok,” she said, hours after Francis had already landed in Dublin.

Two fundraisers have been organised to raise money for the McDonald family’s medical bill. The first will take place in the Three Cs in Rosemary Street on May 5 and the second and main event will take place at the Felons on May 12.

You can contribute to the Francis McDonald Fund via the Ulster Bank: account number 11522972, sort code 980015, or via Paypal at Tier nan06@msn.com

You can also find out more at the Francis McDonald Fund page which has been set up on Facebook.

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