MANUS ISLAND: Does this sound right to you?
How a young Aussie worker helped save a patient’s life – and risked jail to do so!
21 JUN 2017
30 year old Mohsen* was slowly deteriorating on Manus Island.
Originally described by detention staff as "one of the cheeriest, most optimistic of the detainees", Mohsen was finding daily activities progressively more difficult. It was not just the pervasive despair around him taking its toll: Mohsen had difficulty breathing, and at times fainted during normal activities such as walking.
Eventually, in August 2016 a cardiologist examined him and recommended an immediate pacemaker be inserted - Mohsen had a potentially fatal conduction disorder of the heart.
In Australia this would be acted upon immediately. Instead, authorities waited until October and then brought in a second cardiologist, who, unsurprisingly, agreed with the first one that Mohsen needed an urgent pacemaker. A request was made to Canberra for his immediate transfer to Australia for this.
Again, Australia's Immigration Department refused to act on the urgent advice of these doctors. Instead, they waited another month before sending over a third cardiologist, who asked that Mohsen be reviewed in December. This also did not happen.
By January 2017, Mohsen was so weak that he had accepted he would die. He had grounds to feel this way: his good friend Faysal who also had chest pains, was fainting and had reportedly made over 30 visits to the medical team over several months had his concerns dismissed. Faysal died in Dec 2016.
Mohsen was convinced he too would suffer the same fate, and started making his final arrangements among his friends.
Jayson*, an Australian maintenance worker at the detention centre, could not bear to see Mohsen suffer this way, and so contacted Doctors for Refugees. Jayson feared Mohsen might die, but he was also terrified for his job and the fact he could be jailed under laws that prevent such disclosures. He took the brave step of reaching out to Doctors For Refugees.
Upon hearing of Mohsen’s situation, Doctors for Refugees obtained his medical notes and on February 2, 2017 wrote to Dr John Brayley, the Chief Medical Officer of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.
A week later, on February 9 2017, Mohsen was flown to Australia and had the pacemaker inserted. The operation was successful and Mohsen is now well again.
But this is really a story about Jayson – how a young detention worker was able to save a man’s life only by breaking the law.
Currently, under the gagging section of the Border Force Act teachers, social workers or other guardians can face up to 2 years in prison if they speak out about cases such as Mohsen. Doctors for Refugees won the first battle against this dangerous law, winning an exemption for health professionals in September last year. But that exemption doesn’t protect people like Jayson - or indeed, Mohsen.
Jayson could not allow Mohsen to die. And we should not allow Jayson to suffer for his bravery. That’s why Doctors for Refugees is continuing to challenge the Australian Border Force Act.
If you don’t think it’s right that people like Jayson should be prosecuted for revealing concerns they have about people in immigration detention, please consider giving some urgently needed support and ensure we are able to continue our challenge to the Australian Border Force Act.
Suggested amounts: $100/$200/$500/Or an amount of your choosing.
The dedicated doctors and other workers at Doctors for Refugees donate several hours of their time every day to obtain these outcomes for those affected. But we desperately need funds to cover travel and other expenses involved in changing these laws.
*This is a true story so names have been changed to avoid prosecution.