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Health

Sanford man forced to pay thousands of dollars before emergency heart surgery in Mexico – WFTV

ORLANDO, Fla. — A Sanford couple planned to enjoy a relaxing cruise to Mexico through the end of 2023.

But when Bill Nelson suffered a heart attack aboard the ship, their vacation quickly turned into a nightmare. It turned into what his wife, Shelly, described as a “hostage situation.”

A hospital in Playa del Carmen demanded $35,000 before doctors would begin Bill’s operation. That doesn’t include the extra thousands of dollars to get him to the hospital.

Shelly Nelson says it all started last Monday.

“My husband said to me, ‘I think you need to call someone.’ I think I’m having a heart attack,” Nelson said.

Medical staff quickly rushed Bill to the cruise ship’s infirmary, but said he needed to be transferred to a hospital on land in Mexico.

The ship stopped in Costa Maya, but Nelson was taken to Amerimed Hospital, a 4-hour drive away in Playa del Carmen.

Once the couple arrived at the hospital, staff did not rush Nelson into surgery and instead demanded $35,000.

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“I’m like, I don’t have $35,000, what am I going to do. And he said, we can’t move forward until we have the money,” Nelson said, referring to a conversation with a hospital administrator.

Nelson told Channel 9 she had to call family members to split thousands of dollars in credit card payments.

About 10 hours after arriving at the hospital, Bill underwent surgery.

But doctors told his wife he would need another surgery three days later.

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“And it will cost $38,500 more. I’m like, I don’t know what to do,” Nelson said, speaking about the conversation with hospital staff.

Nelson told Channel 9 that their insurance even begged the hospital to do the surgery and the insurance would pay later. She said the hospital would not cooperate.

At that point, between the first surgery and the ambulance, Nelson’s medical bills were nearly $60,000.

She told hospital staff she wanted her husband released from the hospital so he could receive treatment in the United States. The hospital refused, she said.

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“He looked at me and he leaves, you can’t send him away. I’m not going to make him want to fly. It is not stable to fly. He could die on the plane on the way home,” Nelson said, recalling a conversation with a hospital administrator. “And I’m like, so what am I going to do?”

Nelson took to social media. Through friends, his family was then able to connect with Jet ICU, an air ambulance service. The service said it could transport Nelson to the Fort Lauderdale area for a price of more than $20,000. Soon, dozens of people across Central Florida donated, raising more than $19,000 to bring Bill and Shelly Nelson home.

LINK TO FUND ME: https://www.gofundme.com/f/emergency-procedure-for-bill-nelson?utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet&utm_content=facebook_cta_control&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook

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