“Our daughter is stuck in Cancun, with our first grandchild and we can’t get him here,” said Elaine Smith, mother of Michaela Smith.
Elaine Smith was near tears, shortly after she and the three other grandparents learned their plan to get their grandson to a Florida hospital had just fallen apart.
The infant, Beckham, was born 12 weeks early during his parents’ vacation in Cancun.
“A baby born at 28 weeks, in the United States, has a 96 to 98 percent chance of survival in that first year,” said Larry Ralph Sr., father of Larry Ralph Jr. Junior has been frantically working to get Michaela and his newborn baby out of Mexico.
Michaela’s parents say she checked with her doctor before moving forward with the plans they’d already made to leave the country. She was told traveling up until 30 weeks would be fine, so she went ahead.
“They should’ve been home today,” said Elaine.
Instead, Michaela went in to labor Tuesday morning, giving birth to a baby boy weighing just two pounds, eight ounces.
Soon after, her parents say the nightmare began.
“Literally they’re being held hostage down there,” said Larry Sr. “We just want to get him somewhere and get him stable. We need to get him in America.”
But for the last 36 hours, these Martinsville grandparents say greed has gotten in the way.
“Larry went that whole evening without seeing the baby,” said Larry Sr. “They demanded pretty much he pay another $4,000 and that got him access to go back and see the baby.”
Michaela and Larry Sr. handed over nine thousand dollars to the hospital for the first day of care and then another four for various “fees.” Then they say hospital staff refused to release the baby to an air ambulance until they paid the bill in full.
The total kept changing, but was last pegged at $30,000, just two hours after they were told it would be $27,000. And even that total doesn’t include the money the four grandparents spent on the air ambulance.
“The Medivac was paid for to St. Petersburg Hospital, that was around $18,000,” said Larry Sr.
Even that plan fell apart.
The grandparents learned from their first medical flight company that no Florida hospital would take Beckham because of his mother’s Hoosier Healthwise insurance.
“I would’ve never thought that we would’ve had a problem getting him in a hospital here!” exclaimed Elaine. “We would’ve thought Florida would’ve been our best chance.”
They’ve been on the phone with Congressman Trey Hollingsworth’s office all day to find a hospital that will take him since it’s an emergency.
Hollingsworth’s office issued a statement saying, “Indiana’s 9th Congressional District office has been working with the family throughout the day seeking a solution to get this newborn home, to the United States, for necessary medical care. Representative Hollingsworth continues to assist and looks forward to greeting this new Hoosier as soon as he is home and healthy.”
Meanwhile, the cost of his care in Mexico keeps climbing.
The family said they didn’t want to ask for money, but with nearly $30,000 spent out of pocket just on the hospital, they decided to start a gofundmeto help bring Beckham home.
“I love you Michaela,” said Elaine as she spoke to Michaela on the phone. “We’re gonna get you and Larry and Beckham out of there. We will do it.”
At last check, the medical jet won’t be leaving for Cancun until 6 a.m. Thursday. The new jet costs nearly $30,000 to bring Beckham all the way to Indiana, a cost the family has to pay for up front.
Even then, the family isn’t quite sure what will happen once the plane arrives. They hope the hospital will release him without incident, but worry they’ll continue asking for money they don’t have.