- A bone marrow transplant could save Uma’s life but the cost is at least $300,000
- Uma’s private health insurer does not cover the transplant and she is ineligible for Medicare
- Uma’s parents are temporary skilled workers from Italy, and Uma’s health conditions could make it harder for them to gain PR
“They told us it could be leukaemia and they sent us immediately to the Royal Children’s Hospital,” Mr Tomarchio said.
In a moment, our life changed forever. We went from thinking: ‘She may be low in iron’, and expecting Uma would be given supplements, to finding ourselves entering a hospital without knowing when we would come out.
Out of 307 cases each year in Australia, 200 are children.
Uma Tomarchio at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne. Credit: Giuseppe Tomarchio
Uma started her first round of chemotherapy the morning after being diagnosed and stayed in the hospital for weeks.
For the past two years, Mr Tomachio’s private health insurance has covered most of the costs associated with his daughter’s chemotherapy at the Royal Children’s Hospital.
‘Devastating diagnosis’: Cancer returns after remission
“I must admit that this time the shock was a lot worse than when we first heard Uma had leukaemia two years ago,” Mr Tomarchio said.
For three days I could not think, I could not talk. I could not stop crying.
“I decided to donate because if my family was in this situation, we would need the community’s support,” she said.
Giuseppe Tomarchio and Lucia Gardini with their daughters Solejai, 8, and Uma, 4. Credit: Giuseppe Tomarchio
“Thanks to the incredible support we have received from the community, we were able to pay for the first deposit and get the medical team to start organising for the transplant: luckily they found a donor with compatible bone marrow,” Mr Tomarchio said.
He said the organisation was “deeply perplexed by the fact that a universally recognised fundamental right, such as health care” was dependent on a person’s visa status in Australia.
Temporary residents still pay tax just as those who, as permanent residents, have unlimited access to the national health service.
Mr Tomarchio and his family are on a Temporary Skill Shortage visa (subclass 482).
Uma’s ill health could jeopardise family’s PR application: agent
“I feel that I should be allowed to access free medical care here, even more than in Italy where I have not been paying taxes over the past months,” he said.
Uma playing with her sister Solejai. Credit: Giuseppe Tomarchio
Meanwhile, Uma’s need for a transplant and care is a race against time that cannot wait.
“Every experience, even the toughest, can teach you something: I have learnt to accept, respect, and that kids are incredible teachers of honesty and resilience.”
One day [Uma] told me: ‘don’t worry, dad, I am not going to leave you and mummy alone.
The medical team has scheduled the preparation treatments to start by mid-September for the transplant to happen on the 22nd.