The Risks of Traveling Abroad While Ill: You May Need an Air Ambulance
You never know when you may need an air ambulance. Recently, I saw a news report that reminded me of that. The story was about a woman who had traveled from the U.S. to Hungary for a vacation. According to reports, Vilma Soltesz was already in poor health when she left for her trip: she had kidney disease and diabetes, and was wheelchair bound.
After spending some time at their vacation property in their homeland of Hungary, Vilma and her husband Janos prepared to return to the United States so Vilma could continue to receive treatment for her health problems. Unfortunately, her condition had begun to decline, and due to water retention, she had gained weight. When she and her husband attempted to board the flight in Budapest, the airline told them that they wouldn't be able to accommodate them.
The couple then traveled to both Prague and Frankfurt in an effort to get on a flight back to the U.S., but they were unsuccessful. In all, three airlines were unable or unwilling to get Vilma onto their planes. Reasons they gave included not being able to find a long enough seatbelt extender, elevators that couldn't support the woman's weight, and the crew's inability to move Vilma from her wheelchair to her seat on the plane.
Ultimately, the couple returned to their vacation home in Hungary, where Vilma passed away several days later.
There's no doubt that this is a tragic story. Without knowing the complete details of Vilma's condition or the airlines' attempts to get her on the plane, it's hard to say if anything could have been done differently. But the story does shed some light on the dangers of traveling while in poor health, and the risks of believing that commercial airlines will always be able to get you home.
The reality is that commercial airlines can and do refuse to transport people for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, as in a case we told you about a few months ago, it may be because they think the passenger appears to be too sick to fly. In other cases (perhaps in this one) they may be unable to safely transport the passenger.
Sometimes, traveling with a commercial medical escort can help a passenger negotiate with the airline and get on board without any trouble. In other cases, especially when a person has a serious medical condition, an air ambulance may be the only option.
If you're ill and are going travel, it makes sense to have a contingency plan. Not only should you think about whether you'll be able to get the medical care you need in the place you're visiting, but you should also consider whether you may need to turn to an air ambulance to get home. It's possible that having that plan could save your life.
To find out more about MedFlight911's air ambulance and air medical escort services, give us a call at 888-359-1911 or get a no-obligation long-distance medical transport quote here.