Calgary man infected with flesh-eating bacteria in Thailand
Published Thursday, April 20, 2017 8:59AM MDT
Last Updated Friday, May 26, 2017 4:21PM MDT
The family of a Calgary man, who became infected with flesh-eating bacteria while on vacation in southeast Asia, is looking for financial help him get back home for treatment.
Harvey Kell and Tony Ries spent a great time in Thailand and were looking forward to returning home to their loved ones when Kell noticed an odd bruise on his leg when he landed in Taiwan.
The bruise began to swell up and the 81-year-old immediately went to hospital.
He was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis by specialists at Taiwan’s Landseed Hospital who said he probably contracted it while on the beach.
The symptoms quickly got worse and his family became concerned.
“When someone’s in septic shock, your organs shut down,” said Ray and Lori Ries, Kell’s brother and sister-in-law. “It was scary.”
Kell was in critical condition for days, but is now showing some signs of improvement.
“He's opening his eyes now and he's squeezing hands, whereas before there was no response what so ever. So that's encouraging too; it's showing we can get him home and to a Canadian hospital.”
They say that doctors may be able to save his leg but Kell will need extensive skin grafts to recover.
Unfortunately, the couple’s travel insurance ended the day that Kell was admitted to hospital because they were supposed to arrive home that same day.
The family has learned that the company will cover some of the costs, but it won’t cover everything.
“Some of the medications aren't covered by insurance,” his family says. “Not necessarily all the evacuation costs are covered. We're not certain at this point if the evacuation is just back to Canada, (at the) closest point; so that would be Vancouver. To get him home to Calgary, there would be more cost associated there.”
So now, a friend has started a GoFundMe page to help with the costs of getting them home and any other costs when he gets here.
“If we have to retrofit anything in the house because of damage to the legs, as far as showers and ramps, it doesn't take long for those things to add up.”
The family says the generous donations and kind messages bring them hope.
“The people who've reached out to us already, it's overwhelming and we just want our boys home.”
As long as Kell’s condition continues to improve, he could be well enough to take a Medevac soon.
You can find the donation page here.
(With files from Alesia Fieldberg)