Ex-pat’s body held in Thailand over passport error
A stepdaughter of a British man who has died in Thailand has said that the hospital is refusing to release his body due to a mix up over passport numbers.
Retired British man David Donoghue, 75 had moved to Phuket 15 years ago and will now join a mass cremation at the hospital if the mix up can not be fixed.
His stepdaughter Gemma Swift has said that she is pleading with the embassy in Thailand to help fix the “purely administrative issue”. The Foreign Office has said that staff were trying to gather the correct paperwork.
Mr Donoghue had emigrated to Thailand from Bury Greater Manchester had suffered from lung disease COPD.
After he was taken to the hospital by ambulance, staff noticed that he had an expired passport with him
Ms Swift, who is from Abergele, Conwy county, said that her stepfather had died in hospital on 15 February.
However, the paperwork that is needed to release Mr Donoghue’s body to the funeral director showed the number of his current passport and as the two sets of numbers haven’t match up, his body has remained at the hospital.
Mrs Swift who is 37, said it was something that could easily be corrected and the situation was “horrendous” for the family.
“The British Embassy over in Bangkok, they said that because [the number] was from his current passport, they were unable to change the letter,” she told BBC Wales.
“They have said that they won’t reissue a letter with the passport number that he’s got in the hospital with him.”
Swift reported that she was planning to arrange her stepdads funeral in Thailand and then transport his ashes back to the UK where his family would later come back to Thailand to scatter his ashes as he wished.
But as of yet, none of his family has been able to come to Thailand to be with Mr Donoghue in his final days and have not yet been able to resolve the issue due to the 14-day quarantine period currently imposed in Thailand.
‘Basic human right’
Swift said she and the rest of the family have been feeling helpless trying to resolve the situation 6,000 miles away.
“I thought this was a basic human right to be able to give somebody a funeral and I accept that there is always going to be red tape…but please just issue a letter and let us bring him home.”
She reported that before Covid-19, the family members had been regularly travelling to Phuket to visit Mr Donoghue, who previously worked for the Thai tourist police.
“It’s been hard knowing that none of us could be at his bedside,” Ms Swift said.
“That on its own was heartbreaking, and now to get this two weeks later, to find out we can’t give him a funeral, or get his ashes back, it’s just horrendous,” Ms Swift said.
“It’s like being on autopilot… once we know we have done everything we can, we can start the grieving process, but at the minute we can’t.”
A spokesperson for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said: We are assisting the family of a British man following his death in Thailand and our thoughts are with them at this deeply difficult time.
“Our staff are in contact with the local hospital and funeral director to help his family obtain the necessary paperwork to ensure his body is treated in line with their wishes.”