Oxygen dependent mother dies after power is turned off.

A 44 year old woman in New Zealand, dependent on an oxygen pump, couldn’t pay her electrical bill and died only hours after her power was turned off . Muliaga was a school teacher with four kids aged between 5 and 20. She owed $122. Its a terrible tragedy. Fingers are being pointed. It was on the news here in Scotland and people around the UK were offering their thoughts.

Our thoughts are also with the family. The situation totally sucks. But its hard to blame anyone. I wish she had a back up power supply. I wish there was clearer notice from the company. I wish she had been in a community that was more aware.

Story here and on CBS but i imagine there will be much more tomorrow.

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Andrew

Andrew Jones has been blogging since 1997. He is based in San Francisco with his two daughters but also travels the globe to find compelling stories of early stage entrepreneurs changing their world. Sometimes he talks in the third person. Sometimes he even talks to himself and has been heard uttering the name "Precious" :-)

4 Comments

  • Here in Wisconsin (where I live) the electric company cannot cut off someone’s power in a situation such as this, where they are using electrically-powered life support equipment. Not sure what would happen if the power were to go out. A rare occurence, but not unheard of.
    But, as you said, sad.

  • Tragedies like this makes one undertake some soul searching. It is all over the media down here in NZ.
    There would be more to the story that appears, and I am very aware that the spin doctors are all adding their bit, so the real stary will remain elusive.
    So people are aware it technically wasn’t life support equipment. That is it was an oxygen concentrator that concentrates up oxygen in the air to maintain high blood oxygen levels in the blood when have breathing/ respiratory issues.
    It was not designed for continuous us, only infrequently. If it is need continuously you should be in hospital. If it was in use at the time (which it clearly was) there was a number of hours (about 2?) before oxygen levels reached critical levels in the blood. So it isn’t as straight forward as it seems.
    I am still processing all this but wonder about issues of living in a culture that is not ones own and the difficulties in understanding about things that this leads to. That is when in another culture you don’t know what to do when things to to custard (like what that last sentence means!)
    Also some has suggested that the concept of shame/embarrassment/lack or fuss that can be strong in some cultures including Polynesian culture, may have played a part. That is shame/embarrassment of not having enough money to pay the bill coupled with desire to make a fuss about it coupled with lack of understanding about how serious this was helped lead to the tragity.
    Brings homes the scripture about looking after “foreigners” in the land.

  • Is it the electric companies job to know if there is a woman on a respirator living in the house? No. Their job is to provide electricity. Most electric companies, by law, have to provide the homeowner with at least a month to two weeks notice that the electricity is being turned off. It is up to the home owner, legally speaking, to inform the electric company of a resident on a venilator or other life-supporting machinery. In most cases, 99% of the time, either they cannot turn it off or they will work with you on it.
    This situation sounds awful and my heart goes out to the resident and the family, but the blame lies squarely on the resident and her family. Legally, the company was in the right and they were obviously not notified of her condition. The electric company is not all knowing. Stop the socialist blaming of the community and the electric company and place the blame where it ought to be, on the person. The resident was warned and they failed to act.
    Blessings,

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