A New Zealand tourist who was left fighting for her life while on a holiday in the United States has received another bitter blow upon returning to her home in Auckland.
Amanda Sesio, who was in Los Angeles for a cousin’s wedding on behalf of her family, was rushed to the emergency department on July 1 after experiencing shortness of breath.
Doctors diagnosed her with pneumococcal pneumonia, a bacterial infection that attacks the respiratory system, before she was put on life support to help battle an infection.
Ms Sesio sustained hypoxemic respiratory failure, blood infections and fluid filling her lungs, and as a result, never made it to her cousin’s wedding.
To make matters worse, Ms Sesio’s brother Shane Tuala said his sister was alone, which took a toll on both her and her family’s mental health.
“It was a tough time for us to see Amanda alone in these circumstances, especially our mum as she lives her life through her kids,” Mr Tuala said.
“If anyone knows Amanda, you’ll know she has a heart of gold and is loved by many.”
After receiving treatment, Ms Sesio overcame the infection and soon returned to her home in New Zealand.
However, the welcome sight of her familiar home was crushed by an unexpected surprise – she was met with an invoice valued at over $AUD200,000 for her overseas medical care.
Ms Sesio is calling the bill from Santa Barbara Cottage Health another “bump” in her recovery journey and despite feeling reluctant to do so, is calling on her family, friends and community to show her some support.
In a post to her Facebook account, she has shared the link to a GoFundMe page set up by her brother.
“Well I soon knew this time would soon come … to be a little vulnerable and share something with you all and kindly ask for a helping hand …” Ms Sesio said in a Facebook post.
“On the 24th of June I was like a giddy teenager running around airports excited to go to the big Los Angeles to represent my family who couldn‘t travel at a family member’s wedding.
“Only I unfortunately didn‘t make the wedding despite fighting everyday to put on a brave face and hope I miraculously felt better the next day.”
Ms Sesio went on to explain that the series of events which unfolded was a “rollercoaster” ride describing it as the biggest challenge of her life.
“(While) the rollercoaster has although slowed down, (Praise the lord!!), there are still a few bumps ahead. One being this very, very large number that is now my medical debt,” she said.
Despite the payment overwhelming the recovering traveller, Ms Sesio said paying it back will be a reflection of her gratitude towards the staff that treated her.
“I hope my payments to the hospital, which I may be making for a wee while, can help honour, thank and remunerate the many amazing specialists, doctors and nurses who saved my life,” she said.
“It hasn’t been easy learning to accept or ask for help, it’s certainly something that doesn’t especially come easy to us Pacific people … but if you do feel so inclined to give, and are in a position to, any amount at all is deeply appreciated by myself and my family and helps us make a small dent in the bill.”
So far, Ms Sesio’s GoFundMe page has raised over $AUD14,000 across 207 donations.
“Any donation, no matter the size would greatly help us in covering Amanda’s medical costs and we would be forever grateful to any support we receive,” Mr Tuala said.