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Omid Masoumali, refugee who died after setting himself on fire, 'suffered without medical care'.

By Peter Lloyd

An 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 before morphine was administered, his wife says.

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

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.

Mr Masoumali died in a Brisbane hospital on Friday.

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.

Ms 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, Mr 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.

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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 Mr 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.

“The man was severely injured and was in a critical condition at the Republic of Nauru Hospital.

“An air ambulance was the most appropriate form of transport given the extent of the injuries sustained.

“The most rapidly deployable air ambulance was used to attend this emergency.”

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

“He did have profound hypoxia, lack of oxygen going to not only his vital organs, his heart, his brain, he did have a heart attack as a result of hypoxia,” she said.

Mr Masoumali’s body will be flown back to Iran.

It is understood Ms Masoumali is in an immigration facility in Brisbane, about to be sent back to Nauru.

This post originally appeared on ABC News.

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Tags: australian-politics , current-affairs
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