Joy of baby Arika, and then the nightmare of a debilitating cancer – on the same day!

19 January 2020

A young father is counting on the Australia-wide network of Non-Resident Nepali Association (NRNA) to raise the $350,000 he desperately needs so that he can be around to see his two-week old daughter Arika grow into a young girl and someday go to university.

On its part, the Queensland chapter of NRNA Australia is already mobilising its solid member base appealing to the kind nature of nearly 100,000 strong Nepalese diaspora.

Brisbane-resident Arjun Timilsina recently witnessed both the rewarding and cruel sides of life as he welcomed his baby girl in the wee hours of January 6 only to be diagnosed with an acute form of cancer few hours later.

So, before he could hold Arika to his heart’s content, the 31-year-old was admitted into the same hospital and has not left since. According to NRNA, his doctors at the Mater Hospital diagnosed him with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) – a devastating news for the young family.

Doctors have apparently advised the Timilsina family that the life-saving bone marrow transplant would cost somewhere around $350,000, an NRNA source said.

Arjun Timilsina I Photo: Supplied

NRNA Australia’s vice president Umesh Khadka, who is coordinating the fund-raising campaign, says he is confident that Nepalese Australians will pitch in to help save the young man’s life. His organisation as well as other Nepalese community organisations in Queensland decided to make a concerted effort to raise the necessary funds, Mr Khadka said.

Within a day since NRNA Australia took charge of the GoFund page, the campaign has already raised well over $40,000.

Organisers are hopeful that even in the worst case scenario, the GoFund campaign could raise at least $150,000. “We will see how we go for the next few weeks. Depending on how much the campaign raises, we will send emails to our 12,000 plus members across Australia requesting them to help,” Mr Khada revealed. .

Ishwor Kuinkel, another Brisbane-based community leader, told that Arjun Timilsina began feeling sick just around the time his daughter was being delivered at the Mater Hospital. The new dad went home around 5 am, on the day Arika was born. When he still felt unwell at 7 am, he called an ambulance and was soon back at the same hospital where his newborn baby girl was with her mother – but this time, as a seriously ailing patient. “Then he never went back home,” Mr Kuinkel said.

Mr Timilsina is currently on a temporary visa, Mr Khadka mentioned, due to which he does not have a Medicare Card. His overseas health cover does cover the ongoing hospital expenses. However, the insurance company will not cover the actual bone marrow transplant, he added.

A Queensland-based cancer specialist could not emphasise enough on the need to have a proper insurance protection before coming to Australia.

He urged students, or anyone who does not qualify to have a Medicare Card, to ensure that they have proper insurance policy in place. “Again, just having insurance policy is not enough because what would you do if serious forms of diseases such as cancer is not covered by your policy?” he asked.

The doctor, who requested anonymity as he was not the treating doctor of Mr Timilsina, reminded that treating serious forms of cancer in Australia can be “extremely extremely” expensive. So for anyone without a Medicare card, treating cancer in Australia is almost next to impossible, unless of course if you are from a very rich background. “It could even go upward of $3000 a day depending on the case, that’s $90,000 a month just for the treatment and hospital stay initially,” he said. The bills would go even higher if there were post-procedure complications, he warned.

The Queensland-based doctor basically summed up his advice to young students and visitors of the community in two simple points – first, do not travel to Australia without proper medical insurance and second, read the fine prints and be aware of what you are covered for and what not. 

Anyone wishing to help the Timilsina family can do so by visiting GoFund page managed by NRNA QLD.

This is not the first time that the Nepalese community in Australia is leading a fundraising campaign for a community member undergoing cancer treatment. Over the years, there have been occasions when the Nepalese-speaking Australians raised well over $100,000 for community members suffering from cancer.

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