Scot stranded in Cambodia after suffering massive stroke ‘handed death sentence by UK officials’ say family
Charles McLaughlin’s mother Esther says they need £100,000 to cover his treatment and bring him home but Foreign Office have refused crisis loan.
A desperate mum has accused government officials of handing her critically ill son a “death sentence” by refusing her a crisis loan to help bring him back to Scotland.
Charles McLaughlin’s mother Esther fears he won’t survive if he’s not flown back from Cambodia in the next few days for urgent treatment.
The 38-year-old suffered a massive stroke and is on life support with two blood clots on his brain.
The Record revealed last week that his family face a £100,000 bill to pay for treatment and fund a specially equipped medical flight to bring Charles home.
They’ve raised more than £40,000 but say they have been let down by the Foreign Office, who can provide emergency loans to British nationals in trouble abroad – but only in “exceptional circumstances”.
Esther said: “They have the power to fly my son home but instead they are handing him a death sentence.
“Charles will need medical equipment and assistance on the flight and he’s getting weaker by the day. The hospital can’t give him the expert care he needs and our only option is to get him home without delay.
“I do not expect the Government to pay my bills, I asked for a loan that I will repay.
“I’ve applied to remortgage my house and this process doesn’t happen overnight. The Government are aware of this. Once the remortgage is through, I can pay every penny back.
“I’ve been denied an emergency loan three times now and want to know why the Government are refusing to help a tax-paying family affected by an overseas crisis?
“He’s my only son and I just want to get him back to give him a fighting chance.”
Charles was found unconscious in a flat in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh on September 6.
He is unable to speak or breathe unaided and can only communicate using his eyelids.
Esther flew to south-east Asia to keep a vigil by her son’s hospital bed.
Her daughters Jennifer and Lyndsay have set up an online appeal to try to raise the cash needed to fly their brother home.
Jennifer, 42, said: “Charles is being left to die out there. We are all in bits and just want him flown back.
“Neurologically, the hospital can’t give him the care he needs. If we don’t get him home, then he won’t make it.
“It’s breaking our hearts knowing he’s stuck out there helpless.”
Charles, originally from Gourock, Renfrewshire, decided to go travelling last November after being made redundant from his advisory role with HSBC in London.
He went to Cambodia with his girlfriend but decided to extend his stay while she returned home.
However, his travel insurance had run out and he is not covered for medical expenses.
Charles had been staying in cheap rental accommodation.
He became friends with his landlord, who grew concerned when he hadn’t heard from Charles for a few days. He let himself into the apartment and found the Scot unconscious on the floor.
Charles’s family are having to stump up £300 a night for hospital costs but staff are unable to offer him the expert care he would receive on the NHS.
Jennifer said: “We’ve exhausted all of our options fundraising to get him home. At what point do the Government recognise this?
“We are a standard family just like any other, yet the British Government expect us to deal with a highly complicated and extremely serious medical emergency 6280 miles away all on our own.
“All scans, treatments, ambulance trips and everything that’s been done is going to come right out of our own pocket. We’ve had no support.”
The Foreign Office’s website states: “In some situations, and only when all other options have been exhausted, we can pay some costs or fees on your behalf – for example, travel costs, travel documents, cash advances, charter flight costs – when you agree to sign an Undertaking to Repay form, which we will provide for you.”
Last night, a Foreign Office spokesman said: “Our thoughts are with Charlie’s family at this extremely difficult time.
“While our staff continue to do all they can to support them, the FCO are not funded to provide financial assistance to British people overseas.
“In exceptional circumstances, we can provide a small emergency loan to help someone return to the UK. These loans are for a one-way economy airfare and cannot be used to cover the costs of medical repatriation, or to pay medical bills.
West of Scotland Labour MSP Neil Bibby said: “It is absolutely vital that the Foreign Office step up to help bring Charles home. This could be a matter of life and death.
“Charles’s family have already done wonders to raise over £40,000 from the generosity and kindness of thousands of people. All they are now asking for is assistance from the Foreign Office in order to get them over the line.
“Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt needs to urgently intervene and support the family’s efforts to help bring Charles back to the UK.”