- Family raised almost $210,000 but flight cost just $65k
- Aunt said excess would be donated to Medical Rescue firm
- Daily Mail revealed last month no donation had been made
- Family made substantial donation in following days
The family of an Australian student poisoned in Taiwan who raised almost $210,000 to fly him home have broken their silence after Daily Mail Australia revealed they had initially failed to donate surplus funds as promised.
Alex Shorey, 24, from Toowoomba in southern Queensland, fell ill after he was allegedly drugged with rat poison by an older woman while studying abroad.
His aunt, Lizzy Shorey-Kitson, launched a GoFundMe page to help pay for his medical evacuation, vowing to donate any excess funds to Queensland-based company Medical Rescue, which flew Alex back to Brisbane on May 3.
More than $208,000 was raised in less than two days.
But Daily Mail Australia revealed last month that the medivac cost just $65,000 and no donation had been made – more than three months after Alex arrived home.
Now, it has emerged the family made a substantial donation to Medical Rescue soon after the Daily Mail Australia story.
‘As you can appreciate, it has taken some time for costs to be finalised, given the recovery needed from such an extreme situation,’ Ms Shorey-Kitson wrote on the GoFundMe page, four days after the piece was published.
‘We are happy to share that all surplus funds from this page have been donated to the Medical Rescue Foundation on the Gold Coast.
‘We hope these funds can now be used to help and support other families who may find themselves in times of crisis as we did.’
Daily Mail Australia understands the donation made to the foundation was $79,000. That means about $64,000 would have been leftover once the cost of the medivac was subtracted from the $208,662 total raised.
GoFundMe also takes a cut from crowdfunding ventures.
Ms Shorey-Kitson has been approached about how the remaining $64,000 was spent but has not provided a response. Daily Mail Australia is not alleging any wrongdoing on behalf of the Shorey family or by Ms Shorey-Kitson.
The latest update on the GoFundMe page notes that the family’s ‘priority is Alex’s recovery’.
‘We have been declining media requests since Alex’s return as we’ve been advised not to make any further comments so as not to jeopardise the current police investigation in Taiwan,’ the statement said.
The page was initially taken down following Daily Mail Australia’s queries last month before a lengthy statement was added, thanking supporters for their contributions.
Alex, a University of Queensland exchange student, had been in Taiwan for a year and was weeks away from returning home to Australia when he started experiencing black skin spots and unusual bleeding.
He was admitted to Taipei Medical University Hospital’s intensive care on April 18.
After days of haemorrhaging, Mr Shorey went into hypovolemic shock, meaning his organs were at risk of failing due to lack of blood.
A severe allergic reaction to a vitamin K treatment in hospital saw him go into cardiorespiratory collapse six days later.
His GP father, Dr Stephen Shorey, said his son had suffered another anaphylactic reaction shortly before leaving Taiwan.
‘I believe his medical repatriation actually saved his life,’ Dr Shorey told the ABC on May 6.
His parents initially believed his ailment was caused by contaminated street food but Taipei police ruled this out.
At first, doctors could not establish what was wrong with Alex before toxicology tests later showed he had ingested the rat poison superwarfarin.
Taipei Police are investigating a 45-year-old woman – reported in local media as Mr Shorey’s girlfriend – over the suspected deliberate poisoning.
Local media reported that rat poison was discovered at the woman’s house, similar to that found in Mr Shorey’s system.
The woman is now the sole suspect of a criminal investigation and is barred from leaving the country.
In early May, English teacher Elly Chen, a close friend of Mr Shorey’s and an English-teaching colleague, said she suspected he was poisoned more than once in the period it took for doctors to work out what was wrong with him.
‘If things were getting better, why are you getting worse?’ Ms Chen told Sky News Australia.
‘What happened between the end of March and early April?
‘It doesn’t make sense to me, because once they figure out it’s rat poison, why do things go this way, right?’
She said she took Mr Shorey on his first visit to a Taipei hospital after he started urinating blood and experiencing black skin spots and in late March.
But doctors initially dismissed his case after suggesting it was a genetic issue.
Mr Shorey was then in and out of hospital for a month as doctors scrambled to work out what was wrong with him.
Ms Chen offered the exchange student the opportunity to stay with her when his condition deteriorated.
But Mr Shorey responded to say he was ‘staying at a friend’s place’.
That friend is reportedly the 45-year-old Taiwanese woman who is now under police investigation after officers found a 30ml bottle of rat poison at her Taipei home.
The woman has now allegedly admitted to poisoning Mr Shorey, according to local news reports.
She reportedly said that she had intended to drink the poison herself in a suicide attempt but Mr Shorey drank it by mistake.
Authorities suspect she tried to poison the Australian to stop him returning home, according to SET News.