The family of an Australian man, who was critically injured in a motorbike crash while working as a tour guide in Vietnam, have become the latest to use crowd funding in a bid to bring him home.

The latest case says much about Aussie generosity and it underscores the need to take out full travel insurance; though each case is different and travel insurance has its limits. It does not generally cover you if you become based or domiciled outside Australia.

For the past three years, Luke Rampal from Cairns has been working with his partner, Skye, in Vietnam. He started as a volunteer for Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, rescuing street kids and children who have been trafficked for sexual slavery or labour exploitation.

As Luke’s network grew, he joined ‘Learning Project Asia’ as a camp leader for international school groups. Luke loved sharing his extensive knowledge of plants and animals as the kids learned about the biodiversity of Vietnam’s plants and animals, and the importance of caring for the environment.

Luke, 42, later had the opportunity to work as a motorbike and jeep tour guide in central Vietnam.

On 8 October 2018, Luke’s life changed forever when he was critically injured in a motorcycle accident in Hoi An and medically evacuated to Bangkok for life-saving surgery.

Luke suffered a break to his C3 and C4 vertebrae and faces many challenges, the first of which is to come home.  The full extent of the damage to his spinal chord is not yet known, but he has no feeling and movement on his right side, and minimal feeling on his left side. His shoulder is also broken.

“Luke’s a loyal, generous, loveable son, brother, uncle and friend who would give the shirt off his back to a person in need,” his family said on the website Bring Luke Home.

Luke Rampal

So far Luke’s medical expenses have exceeded AUD 95,000. A GoFundMe campaign set up by his family has raised nearly AUD 40,000 and the struggle continues.

Another similar case recently involved Duncan Turner, an uninsured Australian with a terminal illness, discharged from a Bali hospital ward at the cost of AUD 2470 per day. See GoFundMe call for terminally ill Aussie stuck in Bali

The third recent case concerned New Zealand mum Abby Hartley, who spent more than a month in a coma and needed NZD 160,000 (AUD 146,000) to be flown back to New Zealand from Bali. Tragically, although the funds flowed through and topped the target, Abby died before she could be evacuated. Death in Bali shows what governments won’t do

Written by Peter Needham