By MEL MARTIN
Welfare rules mean there's no extra money to help with medical bills.
EVERY day, single mum Sarah Dunick watches her two-year-old son Kyle go through hundreds of seizures, yet the one treatment that would give Kyle any hope of getting better is beyond their reach.
And with each seizure causing a little more damage to Kyle's brain and heart, Sarah, of Woolgoolga, feels powerless.
"His seizures have been getting worse recently, they're so hard to control," Sarah said.
"Just thinking about what he's going through, I can't imagine what it must be like for him."
As well as severe epilepsy, Kyle has a number of chronic disabilities. He is nearly blind, has no thyroid, has cerebral palsy, microcephaly, global delay development, and others that doctors have been unable to diagnose. And until the seizures are under control, doctors can't concentrate on Kyle's other disabilities.
But Sarah is caught in a bureaucratic limbo that means no financial help is forthcoming, because although Kyle was born in Australia, Sarah, as a New Zealand citizen, is not entitled to any carer or sole parent allowance.
And while Kyle would normally get automatic citizenship on his 10th birthday, his disabilities mean neither he, Sarah, nor anyone in her immediate family is eligible for Australian residency.
"I've done everything I could, but immigration told me that because he would be a burden on the medical system we're not eligible," Sarah said. "I'm contributing by working, always have been, I've paid my taxes and I never expected this to happen.
"He's an Australian, he was born here,
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he doesn't know any different."
Going back to New Zealand is not an option either, because by the time Sarah sells all her belongings and travels back she would not only be left with very little cash and no assets, Kyle would also go on a long waiting list, and ironically may not be eligible for a disability pension because he was born in Australia.
Until recently, Sarah has managed to survive with two jobs, very little sleep, no respite, and the constant guilt of not being able to give her oldest son more of her time.
But now Kyle's doctor wants to start him on the ketogenic diet, which has a high success rate and is generally recommended when other therapies have failed.
This, however, would require Sarah to become a full-time carer for the six months needed to determine whether the diet will be effective.
"Doctors said it's his last resort, because surgery is not an option," Sarah said.
"It produces amazing results and could drastically change his life, but requires motivation, organisation and commitment."
But with no government support, leaving work means losing her only income, and while Sarah has no idea how she is going to survive, she is determined to somehow make it work.
"Without the diet, no one has been willing to say what would