A new mum and her partner have called on the Australian government to help bring the family home after they were unexpectedly stranded in Nepal.
India Hodgkins, from Brisbane, was travelling through a remote area of the Himalayan nation late last month when she suddenly went into labour.
The 22-year-old believed she was suffering from a “mystery illness” for about nine months and was unaware she was pregnant until her water broke.
“We thought everything from iron deficiency to gluten intolerance through to digestive issues and even waterborne bacteria,” partner Jordan Austin said.
“We didn‘t know India was pregnant … We’ve talked about trying soon but we never imagined how soon. He (their son) has a good sense of humour apparently.”
Mr Austin received the text message while in remote Ravenshoe that he was going to be a dad, sparking a marathon 24-hour journey.
After three missed flights and an overnight bus from the capital Kathmandu to remote Hohalpur, Mr Austin finally met his son, Neo Dundalli Tal Austin.
While Mr Austin heralded the birth as the beginning of a “new chapter”, it also marked only the start of the couple’s troubles.
“Due to a sudden downturn in mumma‘s health, we have decided to move to Kathmandu to be nearer to a good hospital,” Mr Austin said 12 days after the birth.
“Given that our son Neo is only 12 days old, this was not a decision we made lightly. We are also contending with bureaucracy as we try to secure a passport for our son.”
Mr Austin said his partner had given birth in a forest for “shade and privacy” and had returned to find the camp she was at in a rice field had been flooded.
Over the following day, Ms Hodgkins travelled to a nearby hotel and later to a district hospital where she was treated for signs of liver failure and low iron levels.
“She totally lost her vision, blacking out for over five minutes and almost fainted … she was in labour for 80 hours and thus is still quite weak.” Mr Austin said.
“Neo was born with jaundice and without any ultrasounds or knowledge of whether he was premature or not. We are truly flying blind.
“He has been forced to travel extremely dangerous mountain roads for nine hours in order to reach an acceptable standard of health care.”
Mr Austin said it took the couple three days to reach Kathmandu and described the response by the Australian consulate as “largely indifferent”.
The new dad has since launched a GoFundMe to help secure the new family passage back to Australia, including procuring a passport for baby Neo.
The campaign has so far raised more than $5500 to help bring the couple home, but on Monday Mr Austin said the pair might end up “living” in Nepal.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has been contacted for comment.