A DEVASTATED Inverclyde mum is battling to save her son's life by bringing him home from hospital in Cambodia.

Esther McLaughlin, a former theatre nurse at Greenock Infirmary and Inverclyde Royal, is making a desperate appeal to pay for her son Charles to be flown back to the UK for life-saving treatment.

Charles, 38, is on life support with assisted breathing in Phnom Penh, more than 6,000 miles from home after suffering a suspected massive stroke

The family fear he will die if he doesn't get the crucial help he needs quickly.

Charles was found unconscious by his friend in his flat in the Cambodian capital a week ago.

Scans showed he had two large clots in his brain stem, leaving him unable to speak or breathe unaided. He can only communicate by moving his eyelids.

His mum Esther and sisters Jennifer and Lyndsay have set up an online appeal to raise the £100,000 needed to fly him home.

Esther and Charles' girlfriend Quynh Le flew out to Cambodia to be by his bedside and she is re-mortgaging her home to pay for his treatment.

Jennifer, 41, who lives in Essex, said: "It's not really sunk in properly. We set up the GoFundMe page and we are focusing our efforts on that.

"He is so far from home, that is the worst thing about the situation.

"Charles is in a government funded hospital and it is costing 400 dollars a night. The nurses are very dedicated and hardworking, but the facilities are very limited. He is being ventilated and is in intensive care.

"The facilities are like something out of the 1930s compared to the UK. We are are very lucky to have the NHS, it puts everything into perspective.

"My mum, who is a nurse, thinks if he stays there he will die of sepsis."

She says time is of the essence and they need to act quickly to give her brother the best chance.

Jennifer said: "The clock is ticking - the thing is we don't know how long he was lying in his flat before he was found.

"It is a miracle and testament to his health and strength that he has survived.

"Although unconscious, mum's first words to him last night made him cough and react. This has given us some hope.

"He has since been using his eyelids to communicate with my mum and his girlfriend and has cried."

The family lived in Port Glasgow and Esther, now 67, was a theatre nurse at Inverclyde Royal Hospital, while her late husband Charlie was a theatre technician.

He sadly suffered a stroke and the family moved to Gourock to more suitable accommodation.

Charlie, who was several years older than his wife, sadly passed away 20 years ago.

Esther then decided to retrain as a midwife and because of her job, moved to Macclesfield to work with Charles.

Esther recently moved to Thornton-Cleveleys in Lancashire, where Lyndsay lives.

Charles decided to go travelling in November after being made redundant from his advisory role with HSBC in London. He initially went out to Cambodia with his girlfriend but decided to extend his stay while she returned home.

Unfortunately his insurance had run out and he is not covered for his medical expenses.

Jennifer said: "My mum has been a rock. She is in her late 60s and is holding everything together.

"We understand he did get travel insurance prior to travelling. However, we have since found out that Charles continued his travels by several months to take in Cambodia, but his travel insurance was not extended.

"His bank has told us that we can only gain information and access with Charles' permission, which he is obviously unable to grant in his current comatose state, or, by providing his death certificate."

The family are in the process of applying for deputyship with the court of protection and say the Foreign Office has been very helpful, but unable to provide any financial assistance in form of a loan.

Jennifer said: "We have now received quotations for repatriation.

These range from £35,000 to £105,000, it depends how able Charles is to be moved.

"We are all paying for Charles's treatment, but we are not a wealthy family.

"We have been fundraising and we're all in debt, but he is our brother and we want to give him the best chance.

"He has worked all his life and he doesn't deserve to be in this situation, nobody does."

She made a final heartfelt appeal, saying: "My mum and dad worked at Inverclyde Royal for many years helping the people of Inverclyde. It would be sincerely appreciated if we can count on the people of area in their time of need.

"Any amount of donation people can give would be amazing. In the event of us locating a travel insurance or enough savings to cover repatriation, we will gladly fully reimburse everyone."

The fund currently stands at just over £18,000.

You can support the appeal at www.gofundme.com/brother-on-life-support-help