Time is running out for cancer victim Roderick Catuday, despite the generosity of Herald readers and Auckland's Filipino community.
Almost three months after lodging an appeal to an Immigration New Zealand decision to deny him a two-year work permit, his application is still awaiting ministerial consideration.
But Mr Catuday, from the Philippines, who was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia before his work permit could be issued, is worried that by the time immigration comes back with a decision, it could be too late.
His doctor, David Simpson, a consultant haematologist at North Shore Hospital, said Mr Catuday would die within months if he did not start receiving chemotherapy treatment.
Donations have poured in since a Weekend Herald report on Mr Catuday's plight, but the $36,000 he has received so far is still a long way away from the $150,000 deposit he needs to give Auckland City Hospital to start the treatment.
Only people who hold a two-year work permit and New Zealand and Australian residents qualify for public health funding, and although Mr Catuday qualified for the two-year permit, his application was rejected when his doctor emailed New Zealand Immigration requesting them to speed the process because of the cancer.
Mr Catuday told the Herald yesterday that he was considering returning to the Philippines for treatment.
"The money is not enough here, but I can get chemotherapy treatment started in the Philippines," he said. "I am feeling weaker by the day, and if I don't get treatment started soon, I worry that it will be too late."
Mr Catuday, 42, is married to Emelita, 41, an accountant, and together they have three children aged between 12 and 15 years old. They moved to New Zealand last September.
Social worker Agnes Granada, of the Migrant Action Trust, who is providing support for the family, said it would be "heartbreaking" if Mr Catuday had to be separated from his family at this point of time. "It would be really heartbreaking if that had to happen as his children won't even know if they'll get to see their father alive again," Ms Granada said. "If Roderick goes back to the Philippines, he will be going alone."
She said the Catuday family had sold everything to move to New Zealand and had nothing in the Philippines to return to.
Mr Catuday said he would be making an appointment to see the Immigration Minister to ask for his decision on his appeal this week.
A spokesman for the Department of Labour said last night that he could not make any comment as Mr Catuday's request was still under consideration.
* Moved from the Philippines to New Zealand to work.
* Diagnosed with leukaemia before his permit was issued.
* Does not qualify for free hospital treatment because he does not have a permit.