The family of a Vancouver man fighting for his life in Mexico is facing hundreds of thousands of dollars in mounting hospital bills after he developed deadly blood poisoning and was put in a medical coma last week.
Ryan Maudlen, who has Crohn’s disease, set out on his dream trip with girlfriend Katharina Reigl last July from Alaska to Antarctica when, while in Mexico last Monday, he suddenly suffered a painful episode of the inflammatory disease that caused his intestines to burst.
“The bills are just going up and up and I just don’t know what to do anymore,” Reigl toldMetro, her voice shaking with emotion. “I have to try and be strong for him, but at the same time, I’m just at the end— I just can’t anymore. It’s been a week of hell.”
The 33-year-old underwent emergency surgery at a hospital in Playa del Carmen, south of Cancun, during which a 60-centimetre piece of his intestines was removed.
But when he developed blood poisoning and his organs started shutting down, Reigl said doctors decided to place him in a medically induced coma.
Now Maudlen has been taken out of the coma but he is still unconscious and faces a host of health problems, including a collapsed lung, she said.
“It’s horrible to watch him and not be able to do anything,” said Reigl.
When the hospital’s electricity cut out for several hours, Reigl said she fought to have her boyfriend transferred to Galenia Hospital, a larger private hospital in Cancun.
At first, she said Maudlen’s travel medical insurer, Insureandgo, said they would cover his treatment costs. But two days later, she said the company said it would no longer cover the costs.
The reasons for the reversed decision were unclear, she said, but she believes it’s because Maudlen’s hospitalization was the result of a pre-existing condition.
For privacy reasons, Insureandgo said they could not confirm or deny if Maudlen has a travel insurance policy with them, nor could they divulge personal information about his claim to a reporter.
Now she and Maudlen’s family are facing almost $100,000 in medical bills for his round-the-clock care that are continuing to climb every day.
The cost of his medication alone is $27,000 every two days, she said.
Maudlen’s parents, who live in Australia, have re-mortgaged their house to help cover the costs, but if they can’t come up with the funds, Reigl said hospital administrators have said he will be transferred to a public hospital where the standard of care will likely be much lower.
Reigl said she hopes to bring her boyfriend back to Vancouver, but that she needs to wait for his condition to stabilize enough for him to travel.
“He just needs to get out of Mexico,” she said.
Maudlen, originally from Australia, and Reigl, who is from Austria, have lived in Vancouver for the past two years. Maudlen previously worked for the City of Burnaby’s IT department.
An online crowd-funding campaign set up by friends in Vancouver has already raised more than $55,000, but organizer Ryan Mulligan said he hopes to reach $100,000.
“They’re just such positive individuals and they bring such love to everyone around them,” he said. “We just wanted to help in any way we could.”
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