Coronavirus: Kiwi terminal cancer patient finally allowed off cruise ship in Hawaii

Raewyn Schultz (centre) with her children Zane and Dana Gardiner.
Raewyn Schultz (centre) with her children Zane and Dana Gardiner. Photo credit: Supplied

The Kiwi terminal cancer patient trapped onboard the Norwegian Jewel in Honolulu is off the cruise ship and will soon return home.

Raewyn Schultz, her two children Zane and Dana Gardiner, and her husband Larry Dickie, set sail on the Norwegian Jewel just a couple of weeks ago. 

Dickie told Newshub on Friday morning his wife's state was reaching "the point of critical" - and Newshub can now confirm the family are on a flight out of Hawaii.

Halfway into their trip, Schultz's kidneys failed, leading her to urgently require palliative care and medication.

But the coronavirus outbreak left them trapped onboard the ship, putting Schultz - who has unsurvivable lung and liver cancer - in a life-threatening situation.

The boat was turned away in Auckland after New Zealand banned cruise ships, then Fiji, then American Samoa, and then the family became stuck off the coast of Honolulu. 

Hawaii is one of many countries around the world refusing to let anyone in from a boat, leaving the Norwegian Jewel unable to dock for many days, with 15 Kiwis among the 1700 passengers on board. 

"We're exhausted, we're stressed, my wife is very sick," Dickie told Newshub.

"We just want to get her home to her family because she's going to die within the next few days. She needs to go to hospital.”

For anyone to come off the boat, relevant paperwork had to be provided to authorities. It is understood some documents were held up in being handed over.

The doctor on the ship stated in a letter that it would be fatal for Raewyn to stay on the ship and her oncologist said that her condition is life-threatening, Larry’s sister Anita said in an email to Newshub. 

The COVID-19 pandemic is the largest consular response the New Zealand Government has ever undertaken.  

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) staff in Wellington and around the world are responding to extreme numbers of enquiries from New Zealanders facing global travel disruptions.

Newshub understands that extensive efforts were made to move Schultz to New Zealand.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Prime Minister told Newshub she was aware of Schultz's case. 

"We are aware of Schultz's circumstances, and that she is being provided with consular support," Jacinda Ardern said.

"As you can imagine, it is difficult for any New Zealander offshore at the moment, but particularly if they are with a cruise ship.

"Our consular assistance is being provided and they're doing as much as they can."

The coronavirus has trapped cruise ships all around the world with border closures. The Cruise Lines International Association says up to 90,000 passengers are stuck at sea.

An MFAT spokesperson told Newshub it is in contact with more than 24,000 New Zealanders overseas, and can understand the distress many New Zealanders and their families are facing from this unparalleled situation.

"Our consular officials are in constant contact with consular counterparts from other countries to share information and, when possible, to work together on solutions to help out our nationals."