A church has refused to hand over the majority of $100,000 it raised for three members of a family who spent two weeks in comas after eating contaminated boar.
St Thomas Marthoma Church has asked the family to provide evidence of what a previous amount of $42,520 given to them was used for before they release the rest of the funds.
Vice-president of the church, Naveen Eapen, said the family have an obligation to show how the money was spent to those who donated, according to the New Zealand Herald.
Paramedics found Shibu Kochummen, 35, his wife Subi Babu, 32, and his mother Alekutty Daniel, 62, unconscious in their home in Putaruru, New Zealand, last month.
Doctors feared the three would be paralysed for life, but they woke from a vegetative state two weeks after consuming meat from a boar they killed during a hunting trip.
The boar meat consumed by the family members was suspected to have contained botulism, however, this was later ruled out and the toxin remains unknown.
‘We’ve said look we don’t have any evidence of what the fund is being used for but what is remaining is to be transferred to the children’s name so it’s just going to be used for the kids, for their long-term future,’ Mr Eapen said of the funds.
‘We’ve even gone to the Charities Commission to ask if there’s any responsibility for us to ensure what the fund is used for,’ he said.
‘Our challenge is if people come in and ask what is the money being used for, we don’t have any evidence of anything.’
Mr Kochummen and Ms Daniel can walk again using a stick or walker, but Ms Babu still requires personal assistance and is having motor skill problems.
Family friend Joji Varghese said Ms Babu was the worst affected, and even has difficulty using a pen.
After waking from their two-week vegetative state, the husband and wife are suffering memory loss, their problems compounded by their insurance woes.
There was some confusion over whether insurance provider Accident Compensation Corporation would cover their medical costs, The New Zealand Herald reported.
Eventually the insurer approved the claimed.
Mr Varghese claimed an ACC representative initially told the family ingestion of bacteria does not count as an accident if it is not the result of a crime.
The family would therefore not be covered, but said they would not appeal because the ACC will ‘keep coming back with legislation’.
Mr Varghese said he wanted to raise awareness of the rule, and hopefully succeed in changing the law.
‘Policy-makers should look at this piece of legislation … the worst part is legislation is put into place by people that we common New Zealanders vote into power,’ he said.
An ACC spokesman told The New Zealand Herald he was unable to comment on the matter unless the family provide a privacy waiver.
The couple have two children, aged seven and one, and their oldest daughter was overjoyed when her parents regained consciousness.
Mr Kochummen, who moved from Kerala in India to New Zealand five years ago, was a keen hunter who would make monthly trips, and regularly ate wild boar.
Source: Daily Mail