A British couple have been left stranded in New York with a £130,000 medical bill after their baby son was born 11 weeks prematurely while they were on a four-day visit.
Katie Amos, 30, and fiancé, Lee Johnston, 29, welcomed son Dax unexpectedly after she went into labour while sightseeing in the Big Apple.
The pair, whose son weighed just 3lbs after being born 11 weeks before his due date, has been told by doctors the newborn will not be able to fly back to the family home in the United Kingdom until March.
They say they are yet to find out if the huge bill for their treatment will be covered by their travel insurance policy.
Doctors in the United States say the pair’s medical bills will reach £130,000, leaving the couple stranded overseas with limited clothes and money.
They had set off on Boxing Day for the short break, but ended up at Lenox Hill Hospital on the Upper East Side of Manhattan just two days later. Dax was born within hours of Miss Amos – a fitness instructor – going into labour in New York’s famous Central Park.
The couple now fear their insurance policy may not cover the full cost of their stay, although they confirmed Miss Amos had been told she would be covered to fly to abroad.
The pair are encouraging friends and family to help raise funds to help cover their costs while they organise temporary accommodation and the essentials they need.
Mr. Johnston, a self-employed personal trainer, said: “He is doing great and so is Katie but we can’t return home for up to two to three months.”
He added to The Mirror: “The only problem is we aren’t sure if our insurance covers the medical bill. We feel quite stranded at the moment, we are stuck here without our family.
“It is scary because we don’t know anyone so we are completely on our own. We just really want to get home but the main thing is Dax is as safe and as well as possible.”
Richard Crow, a friend of the Johnstons for more than six years, said Dax’s arrival was a big shock. He has now set up a dedicated Facebook page to help raise funds for the family’s stay in New York.
He told MailOnline: “It was such a shock to everyone. The family are all so shocked but so overwhelmed with how everyone is pulling together and how a community can step up and help out.
“Dax is fine, thankfully. He’s 11 weeks early but fine. It was a bit of a shock, they were walking through Central Park and she got some real bad pains and they had a bit of rest but it got worse and worse and then Lee said “we need to get you to a hospital” and within about an hour-and-a-half he was born.”
Crow said Miss Amos had received an epidural at the U.S. hospital, which doctors told them cost in the region of £5,000. He said the couple were worried about their financial situation, having to find food and essentials in America for three months while also paying their rent and bills at home.
However, he said they had been put up in temporary accommodation, funded by the Ronald McDonald charity – which provides a free ‘home away from home’ for families with children in hospital.
He said: “It’s hard enough having a child, especially the first because everything is so daunting, but to then be 11 weeks premature and be 5,000 miles away with no family, friends, or clothes, is really hard.
“They haven’t got Wi-Fi and the cost of communication is that much that they haven’t dared turn their phones on.
“To then be told you’re not allowed to leave the hospital, is hard. Lee can’t work because he hasn’t got a Visa, so they have got no way of living while they are over there. They’ve also got house and bills to pay here.
“All I want to do, at a time when their main priority is Dax and caring for him, is take off the pressure on the money front. It would make the experience a hell of a lot better for them.”
Crow said he had so far raised about £2,150, with more fundraising events, including a community party, lined up in the near future.
He said he would be transferring any money to the couple via PayPal and said he expected they would spend it on food, essentials and paying their rent and bills in the UK.
He said Johnston had even contemplated flying back to the UK to go back to work to help with costs.
He said: “He said it is an option for him to fly back and work but I think he’s a bit wary of leaving Katie and Dax over there on their own. We’re going to take on to his clients so he still has a business to come back to. Katie’s dad is looking at flying out in February, Lee’s mum and dad are looking the week after next.”
Johnston’s father Ray said it was difficult with the family being on the other side of the Atlantic.
He told MailOnline: “It was a massive shock. It came completely out of the blue. She wasn’t due until March 10. They only went for four days. She got all the certificates for the plane and everything from the doctors, everything was fine.
“It’s just so far away. We’re happy that Dax is doing really well but we’re very sad we’re not there. It’s very hard on the family, what with the insurance and whether they will be covered. “We have no idea how much will be covered, that’s our big worry. The hospital has been absolutely amazing over there, everybody wants to help them.
“It’s heart-breaking for us not being there but it’s wonderful to see them so fit and healthy.
“We’re definitely going to go out there, we’re just not sure when yet. It’s very difficult at the moment with lack of contact but Dax is doing really well and that’s the most important thing.”
Johnston also said it was overwhelming to see the amount of support from the community.
He said: “Richard is doing all this fundraising and it’s just amazing. Words can’t express how much I want to thank them.
“It takes your breath away how kind people have been. It’s just amazing.”
Johnston’s brother Dean said the birth had been a ‘huge shock’ and said everyone was rallying around to do as much as possible to help the stranded couple.
He said: “They were taking one last holiday before the baby was born but Dax decided he wasn’t waiting any longer and arrived 11 weeks early.
“He was born on December 28. We got the phone call in the early hours and when they said Katie had had the baby, we went into shock.
“They are all in good health, there were no complications with the birth which was fantastic from a health point of view. Dax is in an incubator but he is breathing on his own. The progress he’s making is really good.
“The current issue that we’re facing is that the travel insurance company hasn’t agreed to cover anything at the minute. They said they will await a medical report from the hospital to see what they will cover.
“Katie did contact them prior to them leaving and asked if she was covered and they said it was all okay.’
He also thanked the community for all those who have helped raise money or donated to the cause.
He said: “The fundraising has been unbelievable overwhelming, to see the love and support we’ve had from friends, family and the general public it’s been truly exceptional. We are eternally grateful to everything that everyone is doing.”