Charles McLaughlin is on life support with two blood clots on his brain in a ‘basic’ hospital in Cambodia.
The family of a critically ill Scottish man has launched a desperate appeal to raise £105,000 to bring him home to the UK after he suffered a massive stroke while travelling.
Charles McLaughlin is on life support with two blood clots on his brain in a hospital in Cambodia. The 38-year-old can only communicate by blinking and is unable to speak or breath by himself.
His sister Jennifer Cross said she fears he may die being cared for in such “basic” facilities.
But his loved ones believe he had not extended his travel insurance and they face a hefty cost to self-fund an air ambulance.
His mother Esther has remortgaged her home and is prepared to sell it – but she is afraid this won’t happen in time and has asked the Government for an emergency loan. However, this was refused.
The Foreign Office says it can provide emergency loans to British nationals in trouble abroad but only in “exceptional circumstances”.
The family, including sister Lyndsay, have set up a GoFundMe account to ask the public to help.
Jennifer told i: “It’s heartbreaking to see him unable to speak and he can only communicate using his eyelids. He’s drifting in and out of consciousness.
“We can’t fault the kind staff there but the hospital has very basic facilities and we’re afraid he won’t pull through there. We just need him back home as soon as possible.”
Charles,from Gourock in Inverclyde, Scotland went travelling around Thailand last November with his girlfriend Quynh Lee after he was made redundant from his job with HSBC in London. When she returned home three months ago, he headed to Cambodia and was due to come back next month.
But almost two weeks ago, his landlord, who he had become friends with, became concerned when he hadn’t heard from him for a few days.
He let himself into the apartment and found Charles unresponsive in his flat in Phnom Penh.
Jennifer, 41, said: “It looks like he had hit his head on the coffee table as there was blood on it, then he’d gone to bed and had a stroke. We don’t know if hitting his head caused the stroke, or if he had felt dizzy as he was about to have a stroke and he’d felt dizzy and hit his head.
“He was rushed by ambulance to the local hospital and scans found two large blood clots on his brain stem.”
Esther and Quynh flew out last week to be by his bedside.
Jennifer, 41, said: “The hospital have told us there is nothing they can do. There is the language barrier too which is making it difficult to know what’s happening.
“Charles is a fit, young man who had no history of medical problems. We know if we can just get him home he will stand a fighting chance.
“When something like this happens it makes you really appreciate what we have with the NHS.”
Jennifer says Charles had travel insurance before he set off to go abroad, but they cannot find any sign he renewed it when he decided to go to Cambodia.
“We have struggled to get into any of his bank accounts,” she said. “We’ve been told the only way to access these is with Charles’s permission, which he obviously cannot give in his current state, or by providing his death certificate.”
Charles’ care in the public government funded hospital he is currently in is costing $400 (£307) a day. If they transfer him to a private hospital it will cost in excess of $2,500 (£1,920) a day.
She said that because Charles would need a lot of medical staff and equipment with him, quotes for an air ambulance have been between £88,000 and £105,000.
“We have the option of transferring him to a private hospital in Cambodia but we’d prefer to just get him home immediately,” she said.
The family are disappointed in the support offered by the Foreign Office.
“I called the Foreign Office last Saturday to ask for an emergency loan given our extremely difficult circumstances, which my mum would pay back after remortaging her house but they refused,” said Jennifer. “We’re not a rich family and we just wanted a little bit of help.
“They sent a junior rep out to the hospital and offered help with translation – but that’s all,” said Jennifer.
She said she has been touched by the kindness of friends and strangers – the appeal has so far raised more than £26,000.
“Mum’s colleagues have all pulled together as well as friends of Charles’s. It’s been really heartwarming to see just how kind people can be.”
Jennifer said her brother cried when his mother and girlfriend got to his bedside.
“That he’s acknowledged my mum and his girlfriend has given us some hope. But we feel he has none there and he needs to get to the UK.
“Charles is such a kind person. He would give you the shirt off his back and would help anyone. He’s hardworking. He’s just a really nice guy.”
Foreign & Commonwealth Office spokesperson said: “We are providing assistance to the family of a British man who has been admitted to hospital in Cambodia, and are in contact with the Cambodian authorities.
“The FCO is unable to pay people’s bills for them, or give them money from public funds.”
In its guide on the support it can provide for British nationals abroad it says about emergency loan: “If something happens to you this is discretionary and will only be considered in very exceptional circumstances, and only if you have completely used up all other methods of getting funds.”
To donate to the appeal for Charles, visit here.
This story first appeared on inews