Mom desperate to bring injured son home to Canada
A dispute between the hotel Riu Palace in Punta Cana and the travel insurance company "Travel Underwriters" about who has to pay the USD 70,000 air ambulance back to Canada has left a young Canadian man stranded and confined to a hospital bed with bleedings in his brain.
Mounting medical costs have a Kamloops mother in a race against time to bring her ailing son home from the Dominican Republic where he is confined to a hospital bed because of a brain injury. Catherine McDonald said she needs about $70,000 to bring Mike Donald, 33, a former Kamloops resident, back to Canada via air ambulance — money the family doesn't have. “It's killing me. Every day he's getting worse,” a tearful McDonald said Sunday. Donald works at a hardware store in Cranbrook where he moved a year ago. He was in the Dominican for a friend's wedding when he slipped and fell poolside at his hotel on Nov. 5. McDonald said his head connected hard with the granite surface. The surface was slippery because of the tropical rain caused by Hurricane Tomas. She said he'd complained to her about it when they talked on the phone. “It was raining so bad it just took his feet out from under him,” said McDonald. Donald felt fine at first. Then the headaches started and bouts of dizziness and vomiting. He admitted himself to a nearby hospital the next day. Doctors discovered Donald's brain to be bleeding and swollen. McDonald said his condition has deteriorated to the point where he is stricken with seizures and confined to a hospital bed. She said Donald has travel insurance, but the fall occurred in the hotel, creating a discrepancy about who should pay the medical costs. The bill is already $30,000. The family — several members have travelled to be by Donald's side — has paid $10,000, but McDonald is worried her son isn't getting the care he needs, she said. So the family is raising money to bring Donald home, with efforts underway in Kamloops and Cranbrook, where he moved a year ago to be near his daughter. Friends in Revelstoke will hold a benefit concert on Friday. In Kamloops, McDonald has opened an account at the Bank of Montreal under Mike Donald (McDonald) where people can contribute to the cause. She doesn't know how much has been raised so far. A Facebook group called Help Raise Funds To Bring Mike McDonald Home gained more than 400 members by Sunday. McDonald doesn't know how much money has been raised, nor have arrangements been made for an air ambulance. But she has enlisted the help of MP Cathy McLeod to get the process rolling. McLeod has contacted Foreign Affairs, but would not comment on the matter further, saying she can't speak to specifics of any one case. She said Foreign Affairs regularly helps out Canadians who encounter trouble abroad, and recommends people travel with proper health insurance. McDonald, who is unemployed and on disability, is only focused on getting her son home. She said he's barely able to sit up or eat. Donald was an athlete who played junior league and midget rep hockey in the Cariboo as a youth. She said the trip was Donald's first that didn't involve a hockey team and he was looking forward to it. “He was so excited and so happy,” she said.
source: The Daily News www.kamloopsnews.ca
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Update Nov 21, 2010
by Castanet Staff - Story: 58397
Nov 21, 2010 / 12:30 pm
A story affecting all Canadians travelling abroad has taken a tragic turn.
Mike McDonald, the comatose B.C. resident at the centre of a travel insurance debate, has died.
His cousin, Vernon resident Keith McDonald, says he was placed on life support Saturday morning.
He died that evening.
Despite the tragic outcome, McDonald says he is grateful for the support of the community.
"The public pressure made the insurance pay, but too late I guess," says McDonald.
Mike McDonald's travel insurance company initially refused to pay his medical bills after he ended up in a Dominican Republic hospital in a coma.
He had fallen and struck his head on a granite floor at a resort while celebrating a friends wedding on November 6.
The insurance company insisted it was the resort that was liable for the accident.
Last week, the insurance company Travel Underwriters relented and agreed to pay $30,000 in medical bills, but would not cover the $70,000 air ambulance flight to Canada.
Update 3, Nov 23th 2010
Insurance company apologizes for delay
he company responsible for Mike Donald's travel insurance has agreed to pay his family's medical expenses plus the cost of bringing his body from the Dominican Republic home to Canada.
"Our hearts go out to all of Mike's family and friends during this time of unspeakable grief," Michael Starko, executive director for Travel Underwriters, said in a press release Tuesday.
The bill, including a flight to Kamloops, is expected to be near $100,000.
Donald, 33, died of a heart attack at a hospital in the Dominican on Saturday, two weeks after he fell poolside at his hotel, hit his head on the granite surface and suffered a brain injury.
He was on holiday to attend a friend's wedding.
Neither the hotel nor the insurance company agreed to pay his hospital expense and flight home.
Starko said the travel insurance does not apply if there is another source of coverage.
"Initially, the hotel said they would make payments," Starko said. But that was not until Nov. 16, Starko acknowledged.
Donald's body is expected to be back in Kamloops by the end of the week.
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