Sick Caledonia boy in new bid to leave Cuba
Cole, 7, has become ill again after surgery: Will he be well enough to fly home Friday night?
A Caledonia mom and her ill sevenyear-old son are going to make a second attempt Friday night to return home from Cuba.
Nicole Antinello says her son Cole was rushed by ambulance to a hospital in Holguin July 21 after the family was removed from their flight home because he was too sick to fly.
She says Cole, a Grade 2 Caledonia Centennial Public School student, was well during their weeklong vacation but became nauseous with a fever at the airport.
“I would not be able to live with myself if something happened to my boy in the air,” she said.
Doctors made no diagnosis for the first 24 hours, says Antinello. But then one suddenly determined Cole needed emergency surgery to remove his appendix.
Antinello wasn’t convinced her son had appendicitis but language barriers made communication difficult. She says Canadian health professionals working for her travel medical insurance advised her to listen to the Cuban doctors.
“I felt like I really did not have a choice,” she said. “They said it needed to come out.” Cole was in hospital for five days.
“I realize how lucky I am to be Canadian and how lucky us Canadians are to have the health care that we do,” Antinello said.
“We stayed in a war zone of a hospital. Toilets were overflowing, flooding our room. Other toilets would not flush. The shower wouldn’t turn off. (There was) construction outside our room with dust flying everywhere.”
The family contacted the Canadian embassy, but Antinello says there wasn’t much officials could do.
“Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the Canadian citizen who was required to undergo a medical procedure in Holguin, Cuba,” said Brianne Maxwell, spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada.
Antinello’s 16-year-old daughter, Kayla Ripson, and 76-year-old mom, Sheila Ripson, returned to Canada Wednesday.
“It was very hard to watch them leave,” Antinello said.
She had to wait for doctors to clear Cole to fly as well as travel insurance to arrange payment to the hospital.
They’re expected to arrive in Toronto at 2:15 a.m. Saturday. But Cole has become ill again, so she’s concerned about whether he can fly.
“He is unable to keep anything down,” she said. “I am a little worried but I have faith that God is with us and is protecting us.”
She plans to take Cole directly to Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children once they land.
A GoFundMe campaign has raised more than $2,700 to cover expenses.
“I am overwhelmed by the support we have received from friends and complete strangers,” she said. “What we mainly need is prayers to get home.” She says the family rarely travels. “It has been an eye-opener,” Antinello says. But Cole “loves Cuba and made so many friends he will never forget.”
Cole, 7, was in a Cuban hospital for five days after surgery.