The family of a young Irishman who was shot in Libya has criticised the Department of Foreign Affairs for failing to fund an air ambulance, saying the delay in his evacuation led to the loss of his foot through amputation.
The surgeon who treated Abduraheem Duibi (23) says the outcome would have been “completely different” but for the delay of almost three weeks from the time he was shot to treatment in Ireland.
Prof Sherif Sultan, vascular surgeon at University Hospital Galway, says Mr Duibi "would still have both legs today" if he had been medically evacuated immediately after being shot.
Mr Duibi, who has an Irish mother and a Libyan father, was raised in Dublin but went with his family to live in Tripoli at the age of 17.
On March 4th he was in a car which was fired on by members of a local militia. He was shot in both legs and suffered severe haemorrhaging.
His family succeeded in getting him to Tunisia for treatment the following day. As his condition in Tunis deteriorated, they sought the Department of Foreign Affairs’ help to bring him to Ireland by air ambulance, but were told there was no budget for this.
Friends raised the €22,000 cost of the air ambulance and after 18 days in Tunis, Mr Duibi was flown to Ireland. The medical team in Galway stabilised him but were unable to save his right foot due to the level of sepsis.
His parents, Patricia Fitzpatrick and Khairi Duibi, say they were "gobsmacked" by the department's refusal to help with the air transport.
A department spokeswoman said it cannot discuss individual consular cases.
Official advice on its website says people needing hospital treatment abroad should contact the nearest Irish embassy or consulate. The department can contact family, help find English-speaking doctors and communicate with medical personnel, but it cannot pay hospital bills or other medical expenses.
Prof Sultan says Ireland should have a system for evacuating citizens who are injured in war zones, particularly in areas of the world where no effective government or health system is in place.