The family of Liam Davies has warned people to be aware of the risks of locally brewed drinks in Indonesia after the teenager suffered methanol poisoning after drinking at a bar on the island of Lombok, near Bali, on New Year’s Eve.
The 19-year-old remains in a critical condition in Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital after he was flown from Indonesia for treatment.
Mr Davies’ family released a statement today saying that after friends and family rushed him to an Indonesian hospital on New Year’s Day, they spoke to Australian specialists and a decision was made to medivac him home.
They confirmed he had been diagnosed with methanol poisoning.
“We would like to make people aware of the risks associated with consuming locally brewed drinks where you cannot be certain of the quality,” they said.
The teenager had welcomed in the new year with friends at a bar in Lombok and became ill the next morning.
He arrived at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital early yesterday.
“Liam is a fun-loving and active 19-year-old, who has represented his country in lacrosse, and has dreams of travelling abroad to see the world,” they said.
“Our family and friends are gathering around him and offering support.
“We would like to thank Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital for the specialist care he is receiving and the quality of support offered by the staff there.”
The family said they would not be making any more public statements and asked people to respect their privacy.
A family friend, who did not wish to be named, said Mr Davies, a roof carpenter, was a really great person from a beautiful family.
Mr Davies represented Australia at the 2008 under-19 World Lacrosse Championships.
His parents and two younger brothers have been at his hospital bedside.
His brother posted on Facebook that the family would pass on get-well messages from Liam’s friends when they visited him in intensive care.
He would not be the first tourist poisoned on the popular islands.
In September 2011, prominent Perth rugby player Michael Denton, 29, died in Sanglah Hospital after having a drink containing methanol on a Bali trip with his teammates. An autopsy found he died from methanol poisoning.
Mr Denton’s death came three days after Sydney nurse Jamie Johnston suffered brain damage and kidney failure from a methanol-laced drink at the Happy Cafe restaurant on Lombok.
In June, Swedish man Johan Lundin, 28, had a poisoned mojito on Gili Trawangan island, near Lombok, that his fiancee said was laced with methanol.
Last month, emergency doctors warned tourists in Bali about the dangers of tainted drinks after an 18-year-old Sydney school leaver was temporarily blinded after drinking at popular bars in Denpasar.
Volunteer group Red Frogs, which helps school leavers during their annual celebrations, headed to Bali for the first time last year.
It told a Sunday newspaper last week that its workers treated five leavers and took them to hospital with suspected methanol poisoning but suspected the real number was much higher.
Two years ago, 25 Bali locals died from a deadly home concoction that police said contained methanol. A few months later 22 people died and 300 others suffered poisoning after drinking bootleg liquor laced with methanol in Central Java.
In two weeks in 2009, at least four foreigners were among 25 people who died from methanol poisoning in Bali and Lombok and more than 50 other people needed hospital treatment.
Poisonings have risen since an Indonesian Government crackdown on overseas alcohol made taxes on foreign drinks rocket.
Ross Taylor, chairman of the WA-based Indonesia Institute, said the latest methanol incident was extremely worrying but it was not overly surprising that such incidents were increasing.
"Unfortunately too many Australians are treating Bali and Lombok as if these places were their own backyard," he said.
"These islands are a wonderful place for a holiday but they are still part of a Third World country that is a long way behind places like Australia in terms of legal and medical protections that we take for granted."
Mr Taylor said tourists should drink Bintang beer, which is cheap and safe in moderation, or wine from authorised producers.
He urged people to avoid spirit-type drinks and to be extremely careful their drinks were not "spiked" at nightclubs and bars.
"Young people in Indonesia for their first time who find themselves very drunk at 2am are easy prey for some very dangerous operators," he said.
"Arak wine is the drink of poor people in Indonesia.
"It is traditionally produced in remote villages where there are no laws or restrictions on what ingredients are used, including methanol and other sometimes lethal spirits and chemicals."
Mr Taylor said the dramatic rise in tourists visiting Bali and neighbouring islands, and in particular the increase in really naive young travellers, made it a "natural progression" that chemicals made their way into bars and nightclubs.These drinks could be made for under $1 a litre and sold in Kuta and Legian for 10 times that.
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