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Emergency return gets under way

Joe and Jodie Clark. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Emergency evacuation from Shanghai
Masterton family homeward-bound

Story by Soumya Bhamidipati

All the puzzle pieces have finally fallen into place for one Masterton family hoping to bring their son home from China.

Phil Clark told the Times-Age an emergency evacuation flight was in the final stages of arrangement for his son Joe, who had been in a Shanghai hospital since November last year.

Wairarapa-born Joe was found by his 17-year-old daughter on the kitchen floor of their home, after a brain hemorrhage which nearly took his life.

Joe had been in hospital since an emergency surgery later that night. He was still on a ventilator three months later, but was able to go up to five hours breathing unassisted.

While he had recovered enough to travel safely, the cost of bringing the family home on an emergency evacuation flight was expected to be about $350,000.

However, on Friday morning, Phil received a phone call confirming an American company would be able to operate an emergency evacuation for about $100,000.

“It’s such a great relief.”

The family had had “a few sleepless nights” wondering how it would all work out, he said.

“It’s obviously been quite hard in the days of covid not being able to travel over there.

“Once we got this quote, we saw that it was actually doable.”

To add to the good news, Joe’s health was showing further signs of improvement.

Joe, his wife Jodie, and their four children aged eight to 17 had lived overseas for the past 15 years. Phil said the family had been planning to return to New Zealand before covid hit.

“They were planning on being back by November, when he had his injury,” he said. “They wanted to come back and have a bit of a New Zealand upbringing.

“He’ll do his two week’s quarantine and then would be transferred to Wellington Hospital so he could be closer to family.

The family was extremely grateful for the support, both financial and emotional, offered by the community, Phil said.

“Once the family’s back and Joe’s in Wellington, we will certainly be celebrating.”

Joe’s stepmother Mary-Ann was part of a women’s business group which had organised a fundraiser to help the family.

The fundraiser would be held on Thursday, April 22, at The Screening Room in Masterton from 7.15pm.

Tickets were $30 each and included a special showing of ‘From the Vines’ and a drink. There would also be spot prizes given away on the night.

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