‘We need a miracle’: B.C. man stuck in Philippines alone, severely ill

TORONTO (OMNI) – Family and friends of a B.C. man whose vacation in the Philippines went horribly wrong are desperately trying to bring him home, working to raise tens of thousands of dollars to get him back on Canadian soil.


TORONTO (OMNI) – Family and friends of a B.C. man whose vacation in the Philippines went horribly wrong are desperately trying to bring him home, working to raise tens of thousands of dollars to get him back on Canadian soil.

Kevin Lench first got caught by the COVID-19 lockdown in the Philippines. He then became severely ill, and it could take tens of thousands of dollars to bring him back home.

“He doesn’t want to die, and we don’t want him to die. We need a miracle,” Matthew Gionet, a close friend of Lench’s, said.

“He’s very sick, he’s very, very thin, frail, and weak. He cannot walk,” said Gionet.

Lench calls the Philippines his second home, travelling there every winter, and working as a DJ at bars and pubs. He most recently travelled there in October 2019, ending up in Boracay Island. When the pandemic hit, he was stuck on the famous island and unable to return to Canada.

He became ill, was admitted to the hospital, and eventually diagnosed with a severe liver complication. Lench’s family only learned about his illness a few months later, when a social media post detailing his story went viral in the Philippines.

“He needs to see a liver specialist and the care he’s getting right now is just not there,” said Gionet. “It’s just a basic clinic. He needs specialized care.”

OMNI News reached out to Lench’s son, who declined an interview, but said he’s grateful for the support pouring in from the Filipino community.

Meanwhile, Lench’s loved ones say they’ve approached the Canadian Embassy in the Philippines for help.

“They told us that unless it’s a political situation or say he was kidnapped or something, there’s no financial aid for health. So, they basically said that you’re on your own unless you have proper health insurance,” Gionet explained.

OMNI News reached out to Global Affairs Canada to talk about Lench’s situation.

“Global Affairs Canada is aware of the case of a Canadian citizen in the Philippines,” a statement reads. “Consular services are being provided to the individual and their family. Consular officials are liaising with local authorities where necessary. Due to privacy considerations, no further details will be provided.”

And while consular services are being provided, Gionet says he thought the government would provide more support.

“It’s difficult, because, I guess, as a Canadian I assumed there would be help. So it’s sad to hear that there’s nothing they can do. It’s pretty heartbreaking actually,” he told OMNI.

Lench has since been transferred to a larger hospital, where he is receiving better care. However, he is still not home.

An online campaign aims to raise enough money to bring Lench back to Canada. His family and friends say, in his current condition, that trip could cost up to $70,000.

“We are positive. It wasn’t looking good for the last couple of weeks. I didn’t honestly think he was going to make it. Somehow he has pulled through. He has hope,” Gionet said.

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