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Local boy home from Mexico after surgery

UPDATE @ 5:23 p.m. (June 11): Peyton Johnson returned to his home in Park Layne this morning after undergoing emergency surgery for an appendicitis at a Mexican hospital a week ago after being removed from a Carnival cruise ship.

Peyton, 12, and his mother Christie were stuck in Mexico last week while Peyton received treatment and medical bills piled up. The boy did not have a passport which complicated the situation.

Peyton’s family flew to a children’s hospital in Houston on Saturday and returned home Thursday morning, said his father, Alex Karjala.

“He’s doing well,” Karjala said. “His infection is clearing up. All of his blood tests have cleared up.”

According to a gofundme.com page set up by Johnson’s family, more than $17,000 has been raised to pay for Peyton’s medical expenses.

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The Johnson family was refunded their full cruise fare, said Carnival Cruise Lines spokesman Vance Gulliksen, and a Carnival CareTeam is working toward funding the family’s return home. The family disembarked in Cozumel because of Peyton’s illness.

UPDATE @ 4:55 p.m.: A spokesman with Carnival Cruise Lines, Vance Gulliksen, tells us the Johnson family has been refunded their full cruise fare and a Carnival CareTeam is working towards funding the family’s return home. The family disembarked in Cozumel due to 12-year-old Peyton Johnson’s appendicitis.

UPDATE @ 2:50 p.m. (June 5): A Clark County boy is scheduled to return to the United States Saturday after undergoing emergency surgery for an appendicitis at a Mexican hospital after being removed from a Carnival cruise ship.

Peyton Johnson and his mother have been stuck in Mexico while Johnson received treatment and medical bills piled up.

The boy did not have a passport which complicated the situation.

Thursday, a former Beavercreek resident who now lives in Progreso, Mexico, visited Peyton Johnson in the Mexican hospital where he underwent emergency surgery.

Mick Bernhard heard about WHIO’s story and the Johnson family’s predicament.

According to a gofundme.com page set up by Johnson’s family, Peyton’s family wrote he will fly from Mexico Saturday to a children’s hospital in Houston, Texas. His bills have stretched to nearly $14,000 in Mexico, and bills are expected to climb for his stay in Houston and return flight to Ohio. So far, the Johnson family has received over $11,000 in donations to help cover Peyton’s expenses.

FIRST REPORT

A Clark County boy and his mother are stuck in Mexico after his emergency surgery forced them off their cruise ship with no funds to pay for treatments.

Twelve-year-old Peyton Johnson and his mother, Christie, got off their Carnival cruise ship in Progreso, Mexico, after Peyton was diagnosed with appendicitis by the ship’s doctor, said Alex Karjala, Peyton’s father.

“This has turned into a terror vacation,” he said.

The Park Layne mother and son both did not travel with passports, which are not required for Carnival cruises that disembark and port at the same U.S. city, according to the cruise company’s website.

“Carnival highly recommends that all guests travel with a passport,” Vance Gullisken, a Carnival cruise line representative, said in an email Thursday.

The family did not buy travel insurance to cover any expenses from medical or trip emergencies, Karjala said. Now the pair are stuck in the Mexican city with hospital bills mounting — which must be paid for in cash, he added.

“They wanted $3,300 in cash to do the surgery and without it — no surgery,” Karjala said. “The hospital is charging them $900 dollars a day.”

When asked about the the company’s policy for travelers who suffer from medical emergencies while on board, Gullisken said Carnival does send some passengers to ports for service, depending on the severity of the illness.

“Should a guest experience a medical emergency on board, Carnival has a team of professionals called the CareTeam who would provide guests with assistance and support, including helping them return home,” the company spokesman said.

Carnival did send an interpreter to help the Johnsons, Karjala said, and offered to pay for their passports when they got in touch with the U.S. embassy. But the cost of travel home and medical expenses is left to the family to cover.

Peyton’s appendix had ruptured, and it was removed along with part of his bowel, according to a GoFundMe.com page set up to help pay for the medical expenses. Fecal matter from the ruptured organ also had to be flushed and treated with medications, the website said.

Travel agents recommend insurance that covers part or all of the emergency costs a traveler could find themselves with, said Cyndi Rose, manager at AAA Springfield, 577 N. Bechtle Ave., in Springfield.

“You never know what can happen and it’s a small, small price to pay on what could be a large investment,” Rose said.

Travelers can buy insurance on anything from a plane ticket to medical emergencies, she added.

Peyton is now on intravenous medication and food because he cannot eat due to the surgery and bowel removal, Karjala said.

Meanwhile, the family is trying to figure out how to pay for a medical service to get Peyton and his mother flown back to a children’s hospital in the U.S. The flight is estimated to cost roughly $6,000, Karjala said.

As of Thursday evening, the GoFundMe page had raised more than $3,600 to help the family bring the mother and son home.

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