FORMER kickboxing champion Masoud Abdollah Pouri marked his 37th birthday recently – inside an aged-care nursing home in Brisbane’s northern suburbs.
The one-time member of Iran’s elite Thai kickboxing team has a hypoxic brain injury.
He cannot speak, is unable to move most of his body, and is in the constant care of his mother Fatemeh and younger brother Edris.
“We didn’t think he was going to make his birthday, he is still recovering from a severe flu infection,” his brother Edris, who is Masoud’s legal guardian, said.
“Many of the elderly patients here got the flu last month and some of them died.”
In May this year, The Catholic Leader told Masoud’s story – how he “defected” to Australia 15 years ago, became an Australian citizen, studied to become a paramedic, and pursued a professional career as a heavyweight kickboxer, known in the ring as “the Iranian Tank”.
Four years ago Masoud was relaxing at home after work when he suffered a massive stroke.
His mother and brother flew from northern Iran to help, and since then they have kept a daily vigil providing him with constant care, first in an acquired brain injury unit, and then in long-term residential care.
Doctors examined Masoud’s condition and deemed that the former boxer requires full-time care. He probably always will.
Masoud now lives in Gannet House, an aged-care facility in Brighton where most of the residents are twice his age. He is spoon fed by Fatemeh who stays with him most days.
Remarkably, Masoud, who once spoke seven languages, can still follow a conversation (in English and Kurdish) and can respond by blinking – once for “yes”, twice for “no”.
He smiles, and he cries.
Members of the St Joseph and St Anthony parish, Bracken Ridge, have offered Masoud and his family care, support and friendship.
“You come away feeling so enriched by their courage,” Helen Hickey, the parish’s sacramental co-ordinator and one of those lending a helping hand, said.
“Fatemeh and Edris have a beautiful attitude and their care for Masoud is amazing – their devotion touches your heart.”
Edris, 33, an architect, has put his life on hold to care for his older brother.
He is staying in Australia on a bridging visa and was recently granted permission to work.
This has allowed him to start as an Uber driver, working five hours a day so he can buy groceries and pay the rent.
Both Fatemeh and Edris have applied to immigration authorities for carer visas that would allow them to stay permanently.
So far, there has been no progress on that.
Neither mother nor son is willing to leave Australia, because they risk losing their current visa status. However they are hoping that the family’s youngest son, Mansour, 30, who was recently released from the Iranian military, may soon be granted a visa to visit.
“He (Mansour) hasn’t seen Masoud in 14 years,” Edris said.
“I hope to pay for his ticket to come to Australia.”
In the meantime, Edris has set up a Go Fund Me campaign to try and raise enough money to move Masoud out of aged-care to a house where he can receive full-time family care.
“I hope you might be able to help because our family have been through hell and back and are broke with no financial support and we need help for him, if it might be possible to do so,” Edris wrote on the Go Fund Me website.
“If this would be possible, we would spend the money on housing and providing the equipment for Masouds care needs.”
Even though it has been a difficult decision to make, the family would one day like to return to Iran with Masoud. “We now believe it would benefit all of us to take Masoud back home although he will lose all medical and disability benefits that Australian Government kindly provide to all citizens in need, but the situation is no longer sustainable for us,” he said.
Edris can be contacted on 0413 401447, and donations made to https://www.gofundme.com/TankFundraising