Bringing an Ill Traveler Safely Home

Bringing an Ill Traveler Safely Home
September 24, 2021 Laura Dziomba
Medical evacuation saves a life

The thought of coming down with something while away from home has undoubtedly crossed the mind of any traveler. For Jennifer, this was a scenario she could relate to all too well.

Jennifer volunteers with a relief organization and often travels abroad on mission trips. From an early age—as early as she can remember—she always dreamed of seeing the world and making a difference.

Earlier this year, her work took her to Africa. On this trip, her group was going to help build new schools in Madagascar, something she was very passionate about. It was truly a dream come true!

Halfway through her trip, though, her dream started turning into a bit more of a nightmare. Jennifer began running a high fever and started experiencing some chills. At first, she thought maybe she was just having a reaction to the change in climate. Or possibly it was something she had eaten? She didn’t think too much of it.

As the trip was coming to an end, however, she realized something was definitely wrong. Her symptoms were getting worse. In addition to the fever and chills, she had now developed a bad cough and her whole body ached. She was having trouble breathing, too. As she boarded the plane to leave Madagascar, all she could think about was getting home.

During a refueling stopover, it was clear to everyone on the plane that Jennifer was very sick. She was escorted off and immediately taken to the nearest hospital. Once in hospital care, Jennifer tested positive for COVID-19 and for pneumonia in both her lungs. Her condition was so severe, she needed to be placed on a ventilator.

Jennifer remained on a ventilator for over a month and had to stay in international care for over three months. Remarkably, she made a full recovery from her illness and could finally be discharged and sent home. Because she was still in a foreign country, though, this journey home would be complicated.

Luckily, Jennifer has her health care benefits through Meritain Health®, and along with it, Meritain Health Medical Management. The Medical Management team would be critical in getting Jennifer back to the U.S. safely, and as quickly as possible.

The Medical Management team was able to expertly communicate with all the parties involved, including the attending physician, the U.S. Embassy and the Airport Authority. They were able to get Jennifer’s travel documents in order, coordinate a wire transfer to pay the hospital, and even notify her family so they wouldn’t worry.

After two weeks of almost daily communications, the Medical Management team was able to secure Jennifer a “fit to fly” status and clear her through Immigrations for her long trek home. Jennifer is so thankful to have her health back and for all the hard work that went into her safe return! And her family was relieved to hear she’s decided to stick a little closer to home for her next round of volunteer work.


This story is based on an actual member experience. Names and information have been changed to protect the member’s privacy.


This material is for information only and is not an offer or invitation to contract. Health benefits and health insurance plans contain exclusions and limitations; see your plan documents for complete description of benefits, exclusions, limitations and conditions of coverage. Plan features and availability may vary and are subject to change.


This communication is intended for informational, promotional purposes only. The  reference to previous outcomes made as a part of this communication does not guarantee success in any new or future case(s), as the result of each case depends upon many factors, including the facts of each case.