Cairns couple Helen Moss and George Burnett whose dream vacation to Bali turned into a nightmare when George suffered a seizure. PICTURE: ANNA ROGERS
Cairns couple Helen Moss and George Burnett whose dream vacation to Bali turned into a nightmare when George suffered a seizure. PICTURE: ANNA ROGERS

Dream Bali vacation turns into nightmare

A DREAM vacation in Bali turned into a nightmare for a newly-engaged Cairns couple, after one of them suffered a medical emergency.

In mid-June, George Burnett had proposed to partner Helen Moss just two days before he suffered a seizure while dining at a Bali restaurant, and needed to be raced by ambulance to the city's BIMC Hospital.

Balinese doctors diagnosed Mr Burnett, 60, with having experienced acute respiratory failure, secondary to aspiration pneumonia.

He was placed in an induced coma for five days.

"My lungs had completely filled with fluid," he said.

"I had been without oxygen for quite some considerable time, which caused hypoxic encephalopathy, where part of the brain dies."

George was eventually brought out of his coma, suffering paralysis down one side of his body, but the crisis for the couple did not end there.

Helen, 54, spent most of her time making phone calls between Australia and Indonesia, trying to seek assistance through their travel insurer, and the local embassy.

Unfortunately for the couple, the insurer would not allow them to claim insurance for the medical emergency, insisting that George had suffered an epileptic fit, despite the Queensland Department of Justice and Attorney-General worker never being diagnosed with the condition, only suffering a minor seizure a few years earlier.

Helen said their policy even covered pre-existing medical conditions, but still the insurer would not pay out.

They were forced to pay medical expenses of more than $28,000 for the two weeks George spent in the Balinese hospital. And at one point, they were facing a bill totalling hundreds of thousands of dollars for the medical transfer from Bali to Cairns.

However, Helen, who is a registered nurse, ensured her fiance was okay to travel on a commercial flight back home, and managed to race him to Cairns Hospital upon arrival.

Having endured other medical complications as a result of his treatment at hospital in Bali, George has no allusions that his fiance's care of him in Indonesia - and managing to find a way to fly him home to Australia - may have saved his life.

"We'd been having such a fantastic trip, and then it all went pear-shaped," he said.

"I consider myself lucky, because I was unconscious for most of it, but Helen had to live through the whole thing.

"I can't imagine surviving if Helen wasn't a nurse - there is no doubt in my mind whatsoever."

George is undergoing rehabilitation at the hospital, however, the newly-engaged couple are still hugely in debt following their ordeal.

To help them out, head to the couple's Go Fund Me page.



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