PUNTA CANA –– After enduring the trauma of a premature delivery in a foreign country and all the attendant concerns about her tiny newborn baby, a British tourist now faces a potential US$280,000 medical bill.
Sharon Halls, from Ipswich in Suffolk, was 28 weeks and six days pregnant when she unexpectedly went into labour and gave birth to daughter Evie in a private hospital in the Dominican Republic on September 28.
But after paying over US$13,000 for initial emergency care, 36-year-old Halls learned that her travel insurance provider may not come up with the money.
Infinity Insurance Solutions said it had not decided whether it would cover the costs because the time difference between the Dominican Republic and Britain meant that when she gave birth she was over the 29-week mark, which was when the cover ceased to be valid.
Halls and her partner 35-year-old Daniel Compton have now been forced to set up a GoFundMe page in a desperate bid to raise enough money to move Evie from a public hospital, which they say is dirty, according to a report in The Mirror.
The couple were attending a friend’s wedding in Punta Cana when Halls was taken to hospital with early contractions, which she later learned had been brought on by an infection.
Writing on the fund-raising site, Halls gave a compelling account of the events of September 28 and continuing.
“Little Evie was born breach before I could even lay flat,” she said.
“She was so tiny and blue, it took them a few minutes to get a response, but we then heard to our delight a little cry.”
But while Evie “looked healthy”, she could not breathe on her own.
Halls went on to describe the “substandard conditions” in the public hospital they were forced to move to.
“The sanitation and level of care is next to nothing, she was placed in dirty incubator lined up next to other sick newborn babies [15 plus in room].
“The equipment was old and even the blanket she laid on was stained and ripped. Only the mother can visit for half an hour; so Daniel was unable to see her.
“No one spoke English, so I was left feeling very alone and unsure.”
Halls and Compton estimate that if they move Evie back to a private hospital, the cost of her care will be US$2,500 a day.
Doctors have advised she could be made to stay for 16 weeks, moreover, which would see the bill skyrocket to about US$280,000.
Halls and Compton’s fund-raising page raised more than US$24,000 in its first 24 hours.