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Poisoned student Alex Shorey flown to Australia as police investigate sinister theory

Alex Shorey's brother has detailed the 24-year-old's 'very strange' symptoms he endured after celebrating his birthday in Taiwan.

An Aussie exchange student fighting for his life after reportedly ingesting rat poison in Taiwan has been medically evacuated, as his family says the investigation into his sudden sickness has taken a more sinister turn.

Alex Shorey, 24, had been studying in the island's capital Taipei for almost a year and was due to soon return back to Australia when he fell seriously ill several weeks ago. It is believed he may have inadvertently ingested food contaminated with superwarfarin — rat poison — according to an online fundraiser set up by his aunt Elizabeth Shorey-Kitson.

Poisoned student Alex Shorey being taken off the plane in Australia by paramedics.
Poisoned student Alex Shorey landed in Australia on Wednesday. Source: The Courier Mail

She said he suffered haemorrhaging and a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction to treatment in hospital, and pleaded for his return to Australia for further care.

Brother recalls 'very strange' symptoms

Jean-Luc Shorey, 26, told the Courier Mail his younger brother fell ill on his birthday, with the entire ordeal starting out “as a nosebleed and blood in his urine”.

“So we weren’t really sure what it was at first,” he said, adding that his dad, Dr Stephen Shorey, immediately flew to Taiwan to help his son. “The longer it took to diagnose, he was getting his kidney, liver, lungs and heart damaged.

Alex Shorey in hospital after falling ill in Taiwan.
The 24-year-old had been studying in Taiwan for almost a year and was due to soon return home when he fell seriously ill several weeks ago. Source: ABC

“Because the blood had perforated his muscles he started getting black spots all over his body as the blood seeped into his muscles. All his symptoms were very strange.”

While Alex’s family initially believed contaminated street food was to blame for the 24-year-old's deteriorating health, they told 7 News police have since ruled that out and more suspicious causes are under investigation, including whether the poison was “deliberately administered”.

“It’s all speculative at the moment. All that’s been confirmed is the poison,” Shorey’s uncle Ross Shorey-Kitson said.

Alex Shorey eating at a restaurant in Taiwan and in a headshot.
Jean-Luc Shorey said his younger brother fell ill on his birthday, with the entire ordeal starting out 'as a nosebleed and blood in his urine'. Source: 7News

Alex Shorey returns to Australia

Ms Shorey-Kitson revealed on Saturday a medical charter flight had been secured after raising more than $200,000 through donations. “The flight is booked, the specialist medical team is on deck, and Alex will soon be on his way home to receive the ongoing care he needs," she wrote. “From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you.”

He landed in Brisbane on Wednesday afternoon, with footage capturing paramedics loading him onto the plane before the long journey. A message from Alex's mother Julie said it was amazing her son could finally be taken home after his deteriorating condition meant he was unable to board three other flights to Australia over the past few weeks.

Alex Shorey who has returned to Australia.
University of Queensland Vice-Chancellor Deborah Terry said it was in touch with the Shorey family and had offered support. Source: GoFundMe

“There has been a bit of logistics involved in this one because we’ve had to use three pilots and swap them out, (so) basically leave one pilot in Darwin and then fly through and then vice versa on the way back so there’s no delay in the process,” Simon McDermott, managing director of aviation company Machjet International, told ABC Southern Queensland on Thursday morning.

University of Queensland Vice-Chancellor Deborah Terry said it was in touch with the Shorey family and had offered support.

WIth AAP

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