Austin (15 years old) and his mom, Karen, invited a couple of friends to go on a dream vacation to the Bahamas. Austin, being an avid fisherman and diver was in heaven! After a few short days, the dream vacation turned into a nightmare when Austin, his mom and their guests all contracted Ciguatera Poisoning from a fish that Austin and his friend speared on an inshore reef.
Ciguatera Fish Poisoning is a food born illness that is caused by eating fish that are contaminated with Ciguatera toxin. Ciguatera toxin is harmless to fish but poisonous to humans. It is ordorless, colorless, tasteless and is not affected by heat or cold (cooking and freezing will not kill it). It causes nausea, pain, cardic and neurological symptoms (including seizures, hallucination and paralysis) in humans. Although most symptoms resolve in a few weeks, full recovery can take six months to a year. The toxin will always remain in the blood stream of the victims and they are subject to future relapse.
All four people (Austin, his mom and their friends) were rushed via ambulance to a Bahamian Hospital and eventually airlifted to Miami in order to save their lives. The medical evacuation flights cost $10,000.00 per person. Austin and his mom incurred $20,000.00 in medical cost on those flights alone.
Austin's case of Ciguatera was extreme. He suffered the worst of the Ciguatera Poisoning symptoms. He spent a week on life support in the ICU at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami (4 hours from his home). He was then moved to a private room for several days. He is now in a rehabilitative center in Miami. The family hopes that they will be able to bring him to a children's hospital closer to home soon. He is expected to need 2 weeks of rehabilitative care before he is released.
Karen, Austin's mom, was also airlifted to Miami and spent several days in the hospital there. Once she was released, she immediately went to Austin and has been at his side day in and day out. Karen is still suffering from symptoms of Ciguatera. Karen is unsure when she will be able to return to work.
After a recent visit with Austin in his hospital room, his friends realized the dire situation that this family was in. They wished to support them in any way they could. After spending a few days discussing how best to help, they decided to start this fundraiser and try to raise as much money as they could to hep this struggling family pay medical bills and cover the cost of Austin's extended stay in the Miami hospital.
Austin and Karen have a long and expensive road to recovery ahead of them. Ciguatera will always be a part of their life now. No one can change that. However, you can help ease the financial stress of the ever mounting medical expenses. Any amount of donation would be helpful and would be appreciated by this family.