By Antoine Allen

A veteran woke up after emergency brain surgery to a £27,000 bill because his immigration status meant he was ineligible for free NHS treatment despite serving over ten years in the British Army.

Earlier this month Taitusi Ratucaucau collapsed and was rushed to a London hospital. Doctors discovered a brain tumour that required emergency surgery.

Mr Ratucaucau was told that he would have to pay for his treatment because his immigration status meant he had to be treated as an overseas patient.

Public donations totalling more than £30,000 covered Mr Ratucaucau’s medical bill but he still faces a legal challenge with the Home Office.

Taitusi Ratucauca left the army in 2011

Fijian born, Mr Ratucaucau faced paying the medical bill on top of the £10,000 visa application fee for himself and his family.

Taitusi told ITV News “We fight for this country, we give our life, Queen and country, so what we get in return… we didn’t expect it”

In 2001, Mr Ratucaucau joined the British Army serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In 2011, he was discharged believing he had a right to remain in the country with his wife and three children.

But, Mr Ratucaucau found out he had just 28 days to pay £10,000 for his family to be granted indefinite leave to remain - a cost he says he could not afford.

Mr Ratucaucau is one of a group of Commonwealth veterans that have launched a legal challenge over their immigration status.

Their challenge is supported by campaigner Esita Tuimanu, from Commonwealth Neglected Veterans.

"Not only are they traumatised by the embarrassment and stigma of have to not be able to provide for their families, but it has also taken a toll on their mental health," Esita said.

The Home Office said they cannot comment on individual cases, but added: "We take this issue very seriously and work closely with our foreign and commonwealth recruits to make sure they and their families are aware of how they can attain settlement in the UK, and the costs involved."

Mr Ratucaucau is thankful the public were so eager to donate towards his medical bill.

The fundraiser was organised by Daniel Leo, former player for Wasps Rugby club. He wanted to show Taitusi that the rugby community and British public appreciated his service.

In Regent's Park, ITV News exclusively filmed Mr Ratucaucau meeting Daniel Leo for the first time. Mr Ratucaucau thanked Daniel and the public for their support.

While the men spoke for the first time, Mr Ratucaucau had a surprise emotional visit from his young daughter, who had not seen her father for six months. The surprise left the whole family in tears.

After surviving war zones and brain surgery, Mr Ratucaucau simply wants to live in peace with his family, in the country he fought with pride to protect.