Melbourne Italian family ask for help after daughter needs bone marrow transplant to beat leukemia

Hard-working Italian family who have lived in Australia for seven years are forced to ask strangers for help to save their gravely ill daughter after hospital demanded $150,000 before she can receive life-saving treatment

  • Four-year-old Uma, born in Australia, was diagnosed with cancer two years ago
  • She responded well to treatment and appeared to be recovering in remission
  • But in May she was diagnosed with a different very rare form of leukemia 
  • She needs a bone marrow transplant to save her life but the cost is $300,000 
  • Her private health insurer does not cover this and she is ineligible for Medicare 

A toddler battling a rare cancer can’t access a life-saving treatment because authorities don’t consider her an Australian citizen, even though she was born here.

Four-year-old Uma has lived in Australia her whole life after her parents moved to Melbourne from Italy, but she is not eligible for Medicare because our laws don’t recognise citizenship by birth.

Her parents are now desperately trying to raise money for a $300,000 bone marrow transplant after their private health insurer told them it was not covered and the hospital demanded half the payment – $150,000 – before booking the operation.

‘Uma was diagnosed with (acute lymphoblastic) leukemia two years ago, at first she responded well to the treatment and went into remission immediately,’ her dad Giuseppe Tomarchio said on Tuesday. 

‘But about a month ago she relapsed and the disease mutated into a more rare and aggressive form.’

The family from Melbourne have lived in Australia for seven years (pictured L-R: Solejai, Lucia, Uma and Giuseppe)

The family from Melbourne have lived in Australia for seven years (pictured L-R: Solejai, Lucia, Uma and Giuseppe) 

Mr Tomarchio explained Uma has just recovered from a cycle of chemotherapy and needs a bone marrow transplant or the new cancer (acute myeloid leukaemia) will keep returning. 

‘Our insurance doesn’t cover and we don’t have the right to public health,’ he said.

‘We can’t come do it in Italy for several reasons, especially as such a trip is not safe for her right now.’

Family friend Megan Mahon launched a GoFundMe to help the hard-working young family. 

‘The chemotherapy in her brain is toxic and is causing seizures, along with many other issues throughout her body. She can’t afford to relapse and have any more chemo. She needs the transplant as soon as possible,’ Ms Mahon said.

She explained the family has lived here for seven years and are working towards their permanent residency but are currently on working visas. 

‘Giuseppe is a partner in a business with his cousins, pays tax and employs 20+ Aussies,’ Ms Mahon said.

‘The business is still young and was impacted heavily by Covid.’ 

‘The family are active members of their local community and contribute to society, but still because of the complicated visa situation, they are not covered by Medicare for this life saving treatment.’

The GoFundMe has raised more than $42,000 but the family desperately needs the $300,000 to pay for the entire operation. 

Four-year-old Uma

She has already completed chemotherapy

Four-year-old Uma, who ‘loves Barbies and ponies’  was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer but can’t access Medicare (pictured with her father Giuseppe)

Up until August 20, 1986, babies who were born in Australia were automatically Australian citizens, but after that, the law was changed to make children meet one of two criteria. 

One or both parents need to be Australian citizens; or they must have lived in Australia from birth until they turn 10.

According to the Medicare Australia website: ‘Medicare is Australia’s universal health insurance scheme. It guarantees all Australians (and some overseas visitors) access to a wide range of health and hospital services at low or no cost’. 

For those that hold a Medicare card, the cost of essential operations at a public hospital are in most cases free. 

Daily Mail Australia has contacted the federal health department for comment.


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