27 May 2014

Man dies after returning to Fiji

5:15 am on 27 May 2014

A young man who returned to Fiji after being threatened with deportation if he did not return voluntarily has died from kidney failure, Labour MP Rajen Prasad says.

Sanil Kumar, 30, who had kidney failure, had said he would have to pay triple the amount for dialysis in Fiji that he had been receiving in New Zealand, and if he was sent back he would die.

But he returned to Fiji because he was told that, should he be deported, he would not be able to return to New Zealand for future treatment.

Associate Immigration Minister Nikki Kaye refused to intervene in Mr Kumar's case and he died in Fiji on Monday morning, after being deported in April.

Mr Prasad, who had been advocating for Mr Kumar, said his family had raised most of the $130,000 needed for the treatment, and he had a donor in New Zealand.

Associate Immigration Minister Nikki Kaye refused to intervene in Mr Kumar's case but Mr Prasad said it would have done no harm to this country to let him have his transplant here, and that the immigration system was utterly heartless.

"My personal response is one of great sadness, that we weren't able to be generous enough and compassionate enough to enable this young man to go through his treatment here before returning to Fiji," Mr Prasad said.

"We realised the risks of sending him to an uncertain environment, and unfortunately those risks have been realised in the worst manner possible."

Mr Prasad said it was sad New Zealand could not extend compassion to Mr Kumar in his hour of need, and that a sensible minister and intelligent immigration system would have understood that this was a life and death issue for the young man.

Heartless decision

Mr Kumar's brother, Ashneel Kumar, said Ms Kaye's decision not to intervene was heartless and that his brother would still be alive if he had been allowed to stay for dialysis treatment.

"Fiji is a third world country and New Zealand is a first world country. The facilities that we have in New Zealand, it's not provided in Fiji."

The family had done everything required and were covering the cost of his brother's treatment, Ashneel Kumar said.

Ms Kaye said her thoughts are with Mr Kumar's family but that she had given careful and thorough consideration to the decision, as well as sought additional advice from health agencies.

Prime Minister John Key said he was constrained on what he could say because Mr Kumar would not grant a privacy waiver.

"The minister established through the Ministry of Health that there were appropriate facilities available for him for his kidney condition in Fiji, so she established that there was health support for him in Fiji," he said.

Mr Key offered his condolences to Mr Kumar's family.