Emergency evacuation saves infant’s life

When David Lee woke up to his daughter vomiting on the last morning of their family vacation in Mexico, he knew something was terribly wrong. His 19-month-old, Dana, didn’t look well and her temperature was 104 degrees. David and his wife, Sookyung, were able to lower her temperature to 101.3 degrees but after a few hours, seizures started on her left side.

A CT scan at the local emergency room revealed a mass on the left side of Dana’s brain. 

“The doctor from the ER reached out to us and said, ‘I need both of you to be strong.’ I wasn't able to stand on my own feet. I felt hopeless,” David said. 

Dana was moved to a larger medical facility, where a neurosurgeon diagnosed her with a brain tumor. David, who is covered through his employer’s UnitedHealthcare expatriate plan, called the number on his insurance card and was connected with UnitedHealthcare Global’s Emergency Response Center (ERC) — a 24/7 customer support resource provided to expatriate insurance members when traveling.

“In speaking with the father, the parents were distraught. He was in tears and unsure of what to do to save his daughter. We held a care team conference to bring together the key professionals, to assign next actions to the team managing this case,” said Kimberly Finney, a registered nurse and clinical lead for UnitedHealthcare Global’s Emergency Response Center. 

The ERC team faced multiple challenges, including a language barrier, a lack of information about the patient’s condition and wanting to help manage the family’s considerable stress. 

“We engaged a Mexico-based physician advisor to assist us by consulting with the treating physician, obtaining medical records and determining appropriate next steps for this child’s care. When our physician advisor spoke with the treating doctor, it was clear the child should be evacuated by air ambulance to the United States,” Kimberly said. 

Within 32 hours of initial contact, the ERC team airlifted Dana and her parents to Miami Children’s Hospital, where she underwent a 10-hour brain surgery to remove the mass. Shortly thereafter, the parents received the happy news the mass was a vascular lesion and no further interventions were needed.

“I can describe my experience with UnitedHealthcare in one sentence,” David said. “It's not help from your health insurance company, it is help and care from your true friend.”

Planning an international trip? Use UnitedHealthcare Global’s online SafeTrip tool to receive a free estimate for travel medical coverage. In three short steps, people can receive instant quotes, compare coverage options and purchase a plan online.

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