Naples family needs help transporting sick sister from Mexico

CREATED Dec 10, 2013

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NAPLES, Fla. - A Naples woman is stranded in a Mexican hospital after suffering a medical emergency on a cruise ship.

Catherine Sciandra says her younger sister, Sarah Sciandra, couldn't wait to set sail last Thursday.

"She was so excited she couldn't stop talking about it," Catherine said.

But Sarah's dream vacation quickly turned into a nightmare.

"She went to the infirmary on the cruise boat and was complaining of abdominal pain," Catherine said. "She was convulsing, she had blacked out."
When the boat reached Cozumel, Sarah was taken by ambulance to the closest hospital. Doctors operated on her for hours, but she lost a lot of blood.
"As of right now she needs a blood transfusion," Catherine said.
However, the hospital doesn't have the blood to replace all that Sarah lost. A hospital in Fort Lauderdale has agreed to treat Sarah, but she can only be transported by a medical plane.
Her insurance won't cover the costs.
"It's a really helpless feeling the fact that she's in a different country and we are having communication problems, financial problems through the insurance company and at this time she's not receiving the treatment she needs," Catherine said.
Fox 4 reached out to a non-profit medical flight organization, but they can't pick up patients outside the United States. It would costs tens of thousands of dollars for a private company to get involved.
Fox 4 also contacted local political leaders, the Red Cross, the U.S State Department and Governor Rick Scott to see if they could help bring Sarah back.
"I am frightened that she could possibly die," Catherine said.
Senator Bill Nelson's office told Fox 4 in a statement, "We were asked by the family to help and we are doing all we can which includes contacting the embassy, hospital, insurance company and the cruise line."