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Tuesday 3 May 2016 | Published in Regional


NAURU – The Iranian refugee who died after setting himself on fire at the Nauru detention centre was without doctor’s care for two hours at the medical facility and lay in agony for a further eight hours in Nauru’s hospital before morphine was administered, his wife says.

Video emerged last week showing Omid Masoumali screaming in agony at the Nauru medical facility, raising questions about the standard of medical care given to him after he set himself on fire in front of three Canberra-based UNHCR staff last Wednesday.

Masoumali died in a Brisbane hospital on Friday.

His wife, Nana Masoumali, says it then took 24 hours for a medical airlift team to arrive in Nauru, a six-hour flight from the mainland.

Nana Masoumali relayed her concerns about her husband’s treatment to Dr Barri Phatarfod, from Doctors for Refugees, by phone as the ordeal unfolded.

“That situation yet again exposes the lie that people who are in offshore detention centres are given the same treatment as they are in Australia,” Dr Phatarfod told the ABC.

“When have you seen a burn victim with such a severe level of burn, some reports say 80 per cent, some reports say 90 per cent – when do you see a burn victim running around a hospital screaming in agony for several hours after the initial event?”

A coronial inquest will need to establish from medical records the precise time of medical interventions.

Nana Masoumali said doctors struggled into the night to get lines into her husband’s body to restore fluids.

Dr Phatarfod said that because of that, Masoumali’s body began to fail.

“But anyone looking at this person in the emergency department should have ordered a medivac within 15 minutes,” she said.

Australia’s Immigration Department says it ‘acted promptly’

The medical company that operates the clinic on Nauru would not say when the doctors made the decision to seek a medivac.

CareFlight, which operates the air ambulance, said it was unable to provide information regarding the evacuation.

When asked about the time taken to transport Masoumali to Brisbane, a spokesman for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection said: “As soon as the department became aware of the incident, it acted promptly to request an air ambulance in the event the man required transport to Australia.

Dr Phatarfod said Masoumali’s condition was dramatically worse by the time he arrived in Brisbane.

Masoumali’s body will be flown back to Iran.

It is understood Nana Masoumali is in an immigration facility in Brisbane, and will be sent back to Nauru.