Four years after Perth 19 year old, Liam Davies died from alcohol poisoning on Gili Trawangan, his parents Lhani and Tim Davies are celebrating a massive win for the charity they set up in honour of their son, called the Lifesaving Initiatives About Methanol (L.I.A.M) Charity.
The couple have been lobbying health and justice officials in Bali to make it legal to give people suffering from methanol poisoning straight alcohol, or ethanol, as a first-aid remedy.
Alcohol, particularly spirits, can stop methanol attacking the brain, eyes, liver and kidneys. The ethanol in alcohol is metabolised quicker than methanol, buying precious time for people who have been poisoned.
The charity has been working to have the controversial treatment recognised, but their biggest hurdle was convincing a majority Muslim country that alcohol works as a medicine in treating methanol poisoning.
Now, under a new directive issued by the head of Dinas Kesehatan, Bali’s health department, people with poisoning symptoms can be given measured amounts of spirits until they are transported to Sanglah Hospital in Denpasar and given dialysis.
The L.I.A.M Charity will work with Bali’s health department from next month to provide education to primary health centres and make sure the new treatment protocol is rolled out across the island.
Liam was celebrating with friends when they drank a vodka mix laced with arak, a locally brewed spirit that produces the deadly by-product when it’s not distilled at the correct boiling point.
Despite being airlifted to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, and starting ethanol treatment, the methanol had effectively embalmed the young man’s organs from the inside-out, and he could not be saved.
Tim Davies told Perth Now yesterday that the legal change could save hundreds of lives, along with the lives of tourists. Since 2010, more than 20 visitors to Indonesia have been killed, blinded or suffered brain damage after drinking in local bars and cafes. (And many local residents around the island too. Ed)
“There are still a lot of counterfeit spirits out there in Bali and Lombok, so there’s still a pretty high chance that people will be poisoned,” he said.
“But there’s a lot more knowledge now about how to recognise the symptoms and how to treat people, not just in the hospitals, but in hotels and bars.”
Image from an article in the local press back in 2013 when the Liams started their campaign.