A couple living in West Auckland fear they might lose their home after their crowdfunding drive could raise only a fraction needed to pay for their father's medical bill.
John Lobo, 68, flew to New Zealand from India before the lockdown and suffered a heart attack on December 30, 2020, that led him to be hospitalized with quadruple bypass surgery.
Lobo came from Goa to visit his grandson Kenan, daughter Karen and son-in-law Daryl Barco. The couple had just delivered their first baby after seven years of marriage and Lobo was thrilled to visit his grandson.
While the grandfather had not opted for a health insurance during his visit, he is now slapped with a hefty bill of $23,473 from the Waitemata District Health Board for services at Waitakere Hospital and another bill of $40,725 from the Auckland DHB, for surgery and related services.
Karen and her husband Daryl Barco, both 38, have been making weekly payments to settle the hefty hospital bill and are struggling to make ends meet as they're also paying an additional mortgage on their home.
The couple raised a crowdfunding to help them with their expense but managed to raise only $9,500 after six months of starting the donors page with only 119 people coming forward to help.
A chef at the Brazilian steakhouse Wildfire said the hospital has given the couple five years time to pay the bill and in failing to do so, would pass it on to debt collectors.
Lobo opened up to NZHerald saying he was not in a position to pack his bags and leave to seek treatment in India as all flights were stranded due to the pandemic and had no other option but to undergo treatment in Auckland.
''I asked the doctors if he could travel back to India for the surgery, but they said he wasn't fit to travel and anyway, there weren't flights back to India at the time. I rushed to book an air ticket online for my dad, and in my excitement I did not even think about getting any insurance,'' Karen told NZHerald.
Daryl moved to New Zealand in search of a better life in 2007 and was joined by his wife in 2011. The couple revealed they're now living ''hand to mouth'' and cut back on all expenses, and are worried they could lose their house and the stability they wanted to give their newborn son.
''We are just struggling and living hand to mouth, there is no way we will be able to afford to pay the bill, and I am so worried that could mean we lose our house and the stability we wanted to give our son,'' said Daryl.
Lobo says he feels guilty to see his daughter and son-in-law in such a condition because of him. ''It's really awful seeing them under such pressure because of me, and I feel so helpless,'' he said. ''I wanted to help them in caring for my grandson so they can have more free time, or focus on work. Instead I have become a burden to them, and I feel terrible.''
The family who are devout Catholics say they hope and pray for a miracle to get them out of their burden and lead a normal life without debt.