Elizabeth Alenepi-Siolo was born in Auckland three years ago, but unlike most people born in the country she is not eligible for state-funded healthcare because her parents are not New Zealand citizens and do not hold residency. A law change made in early 2006 means she is deemed to have the same immigration status as the most favourable status of either of her parents at the time she was born. Elizabeth has meningococcal disease, and as a result has had to have her legs and fingers amputated. She has had several operations, is now waiting for another, to separate her fingers.
A spokeswoman for the Counties Manukau District Health Board told The New Zealand Herald that speaking generally, a hospital would provide acute treatment for a patient – no matter what their status. But if a patient was not eligible for free treatment, he or she was expected to pay for that later. Elizabeth’s medical bills – including therapy, operations and treatments – have reached more than $200,000. “I’d have to win Lotto to pay that,” commented her mother Perth Alenepi-Siolo “Baycorp just keep ringing and ringing, asking for the money. I’ve got all the bills stacked up. I just look at it and cry.” She has applied for residency, but is waiting on her papers. At present she is relying on the generosity of others, such as Pam Cleverley – the mother of 7-year-old Charlotte Cleverley-Bisman, who became a household name when meningococcal disease ravaged her body as a toddler. “I’m just doing this small thing to help her,” Ms Cleverley said. “But [the authorities] need to step up because there’s a little 3-year-old girl who’s already been amputated and who’s already suffering.”
Anyone wishing to help Elizabeth can do so by donating to:
BNZ account number (02) 0191 03191 9583