A mother who gave birth prematurely whilst attending a friend's wedding in the Dominican Republic is facing a staggering £185,000 medical bill - because her insurers are disputing her claim on the basis of time difference.
Sharon Halls, who gave birth to daughter Evie on 28th September, explains on her daughter's fundraising page: 'I was led to believe I was covered on my insurance up to 29 weeks for 'normal pregnancy'. Evie was born 28 weeks and 6 days at 10.45pm Dominican time [so 3.45am English time, making her 29 weeks in the UK]. But the insurers disputed the time difference.'
Sharon was due to have an emergency Caesarean which the insurance would have covered, but she had to be transferred between hospitals to have the procedure and gave birth before the operation could take place, meaning that she and Evie's dad Daniel would have to cover the cost of all of the medical bills themselves.
In addition to deposits of $10,000, Evie's medical care alone is estimated at $2,500 a day.
Image: Facebook/Dan Compton
Sharon Halls and her partner Dan Compton are raising money to bring their daughter home
The couple say that the private hospital Evie was delivered in 'consistently harassed' them for the insurance money that they were unable to claim, so a medical director in the UK who has been reviewing the case advised the family to move to a public hospital, which they complied with on 2nd October. However, the new parents are also unhappy with the conditions in the new facility.
'Little Evie had to leave the private hospital and go to a public hospital; I was not prepared for what it was going to be like. The sanitation and level of care is next to nothing, she was placed in dirty incubator lined up next to other sick new born babies (15 plus in room). The equipment was old and even the blanket she laid on was stained and ripped,' Sharon explains.
'Only the mother can visit for half an hour so Daniel was unable to see her. No one spoke English so I was left feeling very alone and unsure. I cried through the whole visit as I felt I had let her down and any progress she had made I had stamped on.
'Family and friends have desperately being trying to help, we have spoken to the British embassy and their advice was to get funds from family and friends.
'We do not know for sure the length of time little Evie will need to stay in the Dominican Republic until she would be fit to fly, but I was estimated 8-16 weeks by the uk medical director before she went into the public hospital, this may now have been lengthened!'
Since they posted their fundraising page, Evie's story has received 20,000 shares and at the time of writing, has raised more than £69,000 - but it's still not enough to cover the medical bills, let alone fly the family home. They estimate that they will need £185,000 to cover the hospital payments alone.
If you'd like to make a donation to the family, you can visit Evie's GoFundMe page.