Canada With no travel insurance, B.C. family struggles to bring injured father home from Thailand
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A Nanaimo, B.C., family is living through a cautionary tale about the perils of traveling abroad without emergency medical insurance.
On Sunday, a fundraiser was held at the Lantville Pub by the family of Vancouver Island native Dan Treacher, who's in need of an expensive medical evacuation from Thailand.
Treacher, 66, has been a regular visitor to the country since he married a Thai woman a few years ago. But in September, he fell off a ladder at his wife's house and ended up with a critical head injury.
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Prabhleen Matharu, 21, was found dead last week in a Surrey home along with the body of an 18-year-old man from the Lower Mainland. Police have said Matharu was the victim of a homicide, and they are not looking for any other suspects. Speaking from the family's home in the Punjab village of Chitti in India, Matharu's father Gurdial Singh said he and his wife had spoken with her the day before her body was found on Nov. 21. "She was absolutely normal," he said. "She was happy and normal. She had no enemies.
An initial brain operation saved his life, but complications have kept him in the hospital.
"He is fighting for his life and wants to come home," Treacher's daughter Lisa Robson said.
Robson says her dad didn’t have a medical insurance plan to cover him in Thailand, and she and her sisters have been paying for his ongoing care — which costs about $2,000 a week.
But bringing Treacher home is going to cost a lot more. The daughters have been told that the most inexpensive medical evacuation will cost about $75,000. and they’ll have to come up with that on their own.
“Our embassies have very limited things they can do for us," daughter Cherril Hoot said.
"It’s not like the movies where you’re going to run there and they’re going to get you home. It doesn’t work that way."
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A Lake Country woman said she went into shock immediately after she was in a severe accident in Indonesia, but it was the pain that followed while she was waiting in the emergency room for her insurance coverage to kick in that was most agonizing. Brittany Roth was exploring a small island near Bali on the back of a scooter when the road made a sharp turn.“My left knee clipped a jagged rock wall and tore me off the bike," she said.Brittany said she looked down and saw an exposed kneecap, a foot that was ripped open and her leg covered in blood.“I looked at my friend and I said, ‘We have to call travel insurance now’,” she said.
Travel expert Claire Newell says Treacher's experience serves as a lesson to other travellers.
"It's a big reminder to all consumers: if you are travelling anywhere outside the Canadian borders, you have to have travel insurance — at the least, emergency medical," she said.
Newell adds travellers should read the fine print of any policies and make sure they know how they're covered before purchasing or hopping on a plane.
Treacher's daughters hope their fundraiser will bring them a few thousand dollars — not enough to bring their father home, but at least a start.
As they look for other funding, they're remaining optimistic Treacher will hold on until help arrives.
"He is a fighter beyond all fighters, because he is still going," Hoot said.
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CALGARY — A hockey player paralyzed in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash says it feels good to be home after spending five weeks in Thailand, where he underwent spinal surgery. "It feels good. I mean I felt that cold, cold wind hit my legs, so I'm feeling good. It's good to be back," Ryan Straschnitzki said Sunday night as he wheeled himself into the Calgary airport. The 20-year-old from Airdrie, Alta., who is paralyzed from the chest down, had an epidural stimulator implanted in his spine while he was in Bangkok. A week later, doctors also injected stem cells above and below his spinal injury to try to reverse some of the damage.
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