Family and friends rally to transport Alex and Jennifer Witmer home after an air ambulance costing $265,000 was held off with last-minute questions raised by Allianz Insurance due to a flu complaint at New Brunswick hospital in Canada a month before the couple took off on a six-week dream holiday to Thailand before they began a new life in Toronto.

A young Canadian wife is fighting to help return her husband home to North America after a medical insurance claim for an air ambulance lift was questioned while on holiday. Last week, the couple went to a hospital in Ko Samui after her husband developed a persistent migraine only to be quickly confronted with the nightmare of a malignant brain tumour that needs immediate treatment.

On Monday, CTV News in Toronto highlighted the nightmare story of young Canadian couple Alex and Jennifer Witmer on a dream six week holiday in Thailand left stranded after medical insurance in Canada questioned cover for Mr Witmer. The 30-year-old Candian man attended Ko Samui hospital with a migraine last week.

A 30-year-old Canadian man has been given until the weekend to return to Canada by doctors at a hospital in Ko Samui after he was diagnosed with a malignant tumour in his brain. Alex Witmer and his wife Jennifer originally from Moncton, New Brunswick in Canada had been on a 6 week holiday of a lifetime to Thailand.

Dream holiday after quitting jobs in New Brunswick

 The couple had recently handed in notice at their jobs in New Brunswick and were planning to relocate to Toronto on their return from Thailand. However, one month into the holiday, the young couple were confronted with catastrophe.

It started as a severe migraine

It began as a severe migraine. Alex’s wife Jennifer told CTV News In Toronto on Monday that at first, she gave her husband Tylenol for the complaint and it went anyway. But then it returned and the crushing pain forced them to attend a hospital on the beautiful southern Thai island of Ko Samui.

Expected to get painkillers at Ko Samui hospital where Alex reported last week with a migraine

Jennifer told the news team at CTV that when the couple visited the hospital on Ko Samui they expected that the medics on duty would simply prescribe high powered pain killers to deal with the problem. It was not quite like that.

Within two hours of attending the hospital, the couple were told that Alex had a deep-seated tumour in his brain that was also cancerous. Doctors told the shocked couple that the growth would require, in short order, surgery and a course of both chemotherapy and radiation.

Doctors could only offer pain relief for a limited time window to transport the Canadian man home

Doctors could only offer a short term solution of medication that would reduce the pressure within the Canadian man’s head caused by the growth which was the cause of the migraine.

However, the medical team insisted that this would only offer a window of opportunity to fly the man home.

The couple were stunned by what the doctors had told them. Mr Witmer had never had a serious medical issue before this. He had formerly been a successful track and field athlete.

Claimed on their medical insurance

They immediately set about activating their medical insurance booked before the trip to Thailand with Allianz Insurance in Canada.

Jennifer on Monday told the TV show in Canada that they were told on Sunday that an air ambulance was in the process of being sent to transport her husband home.

‘We have travel insurance, so we opened a claim and there was no issue, we just got the go-ahead yesterday. They were sending an air ambulance,’ Jennifer explained. However, this was hotly followed by another phone call and a second bombshell for the young pair.

Allianz representative rang back with shocking new

A representative of Allianz told Jennifer that her husband’s medical reports had just been received and there was a problem.

Her husband had attended a hospital in Moncton approximately 1 month before the trip with a cold and flu. 

Visited an emergency room in New Brunswick a month before the trip with flu symptoms

Jennifer explained the problem: ‘When the insurance company told me about the emergency room visit I said: ‘Oh, well that was for the flu’ but they said: ‘he reported a headache.’ she explained. The young wife was told that in the course of attending a local hospital in Canada for flu symptoms including vomiting, her husband had mentioned to doctors that he as also suffering from a headache.

Policy terms and conditions mean the ‘headache’ is being treated as a pre-existing condition

Under the terms and conditions of the policy issued, any preexisting symptom even if not officially diagnosed by doctors can be interpreted as grounds to void the policy.

The official did point out that the air ambulance could still be sent to collect the couple but that the bill would be $265,000.

Wife frustrated by the stance of the insurance company who initially moved to airlift Mr Witmer

On Monday, Ms Witmer vented her frustration at the change of heart by the insurance firm. ‘It’s just cruel. Our neurosurgeon here said his flu symptoms are not pre-existing conditions. It’s insane they are flagging this,’ she said.

There is still a glimmer of hope but an official for the insurance firm told her that the situation did not look good for the claim being honoured, at this point, by the firm.

The couple is still awaiting final word from Allianz.

Canadian man has until the weekend

Alex Witmer’s family in Kitchener in southeastern Ontario are very worried about the young married man. His mother Amanda Witmer told CTV News that her biggest concern was that they would not be able to extract Alex on time. 

‘We were told be a neurosurgeon in Bangkok that he’s got ‘til the weekend and that’s it, we’ve got to get him out by the weekend, it’s very upsetting.’

Looking at alternative solutions including surgery in Thailand or returning on a commercial flight

In the meantime, they are exploring alternatives to have Mr Witmer returned home. Doctors in Ko Samui have explained that he has perhaps until the weekend to return to Canada and have the cancerous tumour operated on.

One of the options being considered is to return via commercial air flights but a doctor and nurse will be required to attend the Candian during the flight. The family have set up a Go Fund Me account and already over $14,000 has been raised.

The other alternatives according to Jennifer are finding a less expensive way to safely transport her husband home or staying in Thailand and having Alex operated on in Bangkok and treated by Thai doctors

‘The longer we wait, the higher the risk becomes,’ the Canadian told the TV news on Monday.

Canadian woman cheered by the support from friends and family who have rallied to get them home

Right now, Jennifer is taking charge of the problem as her husband spends most of the time sleeping at the hospital because of the drugs administered by the hospital to help his condition.

On a more hopeful note, she is cheered by the money raised from the public so far and the assistance of friends and families who are working to bring the couple home.

‘Right now we are trying to find private companies that can transfer him home for less money,’ she said. ‘We have amazing friends and family that are doing everything they can to get us home.’

Further reading:

Battlefield friends help UK man and wife escape medical bill of £12k in Thailand. Now safely home

Thailand could introduce tourist tax or levy next year as expert group begins to examine plans

UK man stranded in Thailand facing a £100,000 medical bill may be rescued by crowd funding success

Ko Samui hospital tells Canadian migraine caused by brain tumour

+ Canadian at a Ko Samui hospital with a chronic migraine told hours later he had a brain tumor – 2nd bombshell as insurance company cancels medical insurance. Boonkong reports from Ko Samui

Posted by on Tuesday, December 10, 2019