Australia Son left stranded by COVID-19 restrictions reunited with dying mother in Adelaide hospital
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A South Australian man caught up in a COVID-19 quarantine ordeal has been reunited with his terminally ill mother, saying he "got to hold her hand" and "give her a kiss" while in full PPE.
Daniel Cioffi was left in limbo in Brisbane as he desperately sought an exemption to travel, on compassionate grounds, to his home state.
He touched down in Adelaide yesterday on an Angel Flight Australia plane, following a change of heart by health authorities.
Mr Cioffi told ABC News he had been reunited with his mother, and thanked the public for its support.
"I got to see my mother last night. I got to hold her hand, give her a kiss and tell her how much I love her and that is all I wanted," he said.
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"This is a direct testament to my mum, that her kids have not backed down from what we believe in. That comes from my mum, she always taught us not to back down or give up."
Mr Cioffi said his mother was "so resilient and powerful" and that her "enduring support for us has been the motivation to get to this point".
"[She] made us fight for what we believe in and who we love," he said.
"Thank you to all my friends and family who have supported me … I want to say a big thank you to everyone who supported me and those who signed the petition to get me here.
"Considering all the broader issues out there at the moment my family thinks this is a big victory for not only our family and our mother, but for all the families and mothers in South Australia. We really hope no other family has to endure what we've had to go through."
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Mr Cioffi left his pregnant wife and baby daughter behind in Spain to travel to Adelaide to be with his mother Emanuela, who was recently diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer.
He arrived in Australia on July 24, but a cancelled flight meant he only made it to Brisbane, where he was undertaking mandatory hotel quarantine.
Mr Cioffi's plight made headlines last week when he pleaded with health authorities, saying he was "desperate" to get home to Adelaide.
He described himself as "just a son trying to see his mum, who is dying".
Mr Cioffi sought an exemption from SA Health to undertake the remainder of his quarantine in Adelaide and be granted a "sterile corridor" to visit her in hospital.
His request was initially rejected, but South Australian Chief Public Health Officer Professor Nicola Spurrier yesterday said that Mr Cioffi's situation was "tragic for this family" and that an exemption had since been granted.
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Pilot proud to play role in 'special case'
ABC Radio Adelaide presenter Ali Clarke this morning read a message from one of Mr Cioffi's family members about the moment Daniel made it to his mother's bedside.
"It was such a heart-wrenching moment," Clarke read out on air.
The message stated that there were "gestures of exuberance" as Mr Cioffi entered the Royal Adelaide Hospital in "full PPE".
"We felt honoured to witness what we and so many others had tried to make happen, and we wanted to thank everybody."
Angel Flight Australia chair and pilot Owen Crees personally flew Mr Cioffi and said "it was a pleasure to bring Daniel home".
"From my point of view it was a straightforward flight but it was a bit special just because of the circumstances and all the coordination needed to make it happen," he said.
Mr Crees said the journey was split into two flights, from Brisbane to Broken Hill and then Broken Hill to Adelaide, to "manage all border restrictions" and "avoid pilots having to quarantine after the trip".
"I don't have to quarantine, I have to be tested three times," he said.
"Daniel and I, we wore our masks the whole time. Daniel didn't take his off from the time he left the hotel in Brisbane."
Mr Crees said he was proud to have been part of the journey, and that Mr Cioffi had expressed his deep relief and thanks.
"He said many times how grateful he was to Angel Flight," Mr Crees said.
"This is a pretty special case. You don't often get to help someone in such difficult circumstances. I was delighted to play a little part to get him home to see his mother."
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