'My heart bleeds': Unborn twin dies after border closure delays mum's surgery

·3-min read

Queensland's top doctor wants to streamline border crossing exemptions after the death of an unborn NSW twin whose mother was unable get approval to enter the state in time for emergency surgery.

The pregnant Ballina woman waited to be granted an exemption for surgery at the Gold Coast University Hospital 125km away, but ended up having to wait for 16 hours in Lismore for a flight to Sydney on Thursday.

The woman's father Alan Watt said one of the twins became anaemic during surgery and died at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney.

Mr Watt hasn't spoken with his daughter or her husband, but his wife is staying with the couple, who have had to rent an apartment in across the road from the hospital.

"It's busted our family apart, I'm up here, her sisters and brothers are in Queensland and they're in Sydney," he said on Friday.

Police are seen at the Griffith Street checkpoint at Coolangatta, Australia.
A police officer at the Griffith Street checkpoint at Coolangatta on the Gold Coast. Source: Getty Images

Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young says emergency cases don't need exemptions and ambulances or Medevac helicopters won't be stopped from entering the state.

However, she admitted other medical exemptions were taking too long to process because of the sheer volume of applications.

"I believe I am a compassionate person but at this point in time we are working through the process. All of these exemptions come to me and I work through them," Dr Young said.

"That's not sustainable because we are getting so many requests now, we are getting very large numbers of requests, particularly from Victorians who want to come up to Queensland because they don't want to remain in lockdown."

The chief health officer also she had to question why individual NSW applicants applying to enter Queensland for the first time for heath care could not get the same care in NSW.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said her "compassionate state" was open for all Australians requiring emergency medical care, but said she didn't get involved in individual medical exemption applications.

"These are clinicians that make decisions in the best interests of their patients and this is an absolutely tragedy about this young baby, I mean there's a woman who's grieving at the moment and many people know what that feels like," she said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the case "terribly distressing" and for more compassion from the states implementing hard borders.

"It's important they're done with humanity, it's important they're done with compassion, it's important they're done with common sense and not only at looking at risk on one side of the ledger," he said.

"Any Australian, wherever they are, who needs medical treatment should be able to access it, particularly in an emergency in any Australian hospital in any state they're in."

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