DILI, Timor-Leste, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- A doctor said a 9-year-old Timor-Leste girl died because he was unable to find a hospital willing to allow her life-saving operation.
Dan Murphy, a doctor in Dili who heads a clinic for the poor attempted to convince Australian hospitals to accept the child, Ila Amaral, for surgery on her defective mitral heart valve, the Sydney Morning Herald reported Monday.
"I blame myself first -- I was unable to find the words to make things move for her," Murphy said.
Timorese authorities refused a Sydney cardiac team permission to operate in local facilities, and the U.S. Navy wouldn't allow the operation on the hospital ship, the USN Mercy, when it was in Dili last year.
"The Navy people didn't want to allow the operation because of the negative publicity if it didn't go well and she died. All in all, a massive effort for something ridiculously simple as correcting a small girl's problem failed," said Murphy.
Murphy criticized "bureaucratic entanglement" in Australia for not saving Ila nor helping dozens of other Timorese patients needing treatment unavailable on Timor-Leste, the Herald reported.
Murphy called for the establishment of a system to expedite medical treatment for Timorese patients –- including 300 children –- who have life-threatening conditions, the Herald reported.
"This little girl was simply not a high enough priority and because of that she lost her life when she should be living a healthy life," said Murphy.