Athugið þessi frétt er meira en 2 mánaða gömul.

Nobody willing to pay for medical flight from Spain

02.10.2022 - 11:52
Gísli Finnsson
 Mynd: Úr einkasafni - RÚV
He must come home to Iceland, say the family of a man who has been at a hospital in Spain for over a month. His loved ones fear for his life and say they have hit a brick wall in their communications with Icelandic authorities, who are refusing to pay for a medical evacuation.

Gísli Finnsson is a 35-year-old father of three. He went to Torrevieja, on the Costa Blanca in Spain, with a group of friends last month, but the holiday very quickly lost all its recreational value.

“When he had been there for a little while, I got a phone call unexpectedly from one of his mates on Sunday 21st August that something had happened and that he was very likely in hospital,” says the mother of his child/ren, Kolbrún Gígja Björnsdóttir.

The situation became especially worrying because Kolbrún did not hear any more, and the hospitals she contacted had no record of Gísli.

“It was a bit as though he had disappeared. He could not be found. Nobody knew anything about him,” she explains.

The family contacted citizen services at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the police, who helped look for Gísli. He was eventually located, after a week’s search, at a hospital.

“And he’d just been there in a coma for a week. Nobody knows what happened, or where or how he was found. Following this, I gave them his health insurance card and they took a picture of it and, we felt, finally he was being taken care of,” says Gísli’s sister, Elísa Finnsdóttir.

They say they still have no idea what happened to him. All they know is that Gísli went with his friends on a “party trip” and was later found unconscious and outdoors on 21st August.

Only recognises Icelandic

He has serious brain damage and his outlook for recovery is still very unclear at this stage. His loved ones say he shows little or no response to the doctors when they speak to him in English or Spanish, but that this changes when he hears Icelandic.

“I was with him with our ten-year-old daughter. We were with him last week, and he totally knew we were there. He looked at us in turns. When she spoke, he looked at her, and when I spoke, he looked. I felt that he heard us and understood us, but when the Spanish doctors speak to him, there is no reaction,” says Hildur Torfadóttir, mother of his child. She says he also expresses emotion.

“Yes, he cried. He was in floods of tears when he saw us; me and our daughter. And we played his favourite song for him, and he cried. He absolutely shows reactions. It’s like he’s there but can’t express himself,” she says.

Elísa, his sister, says it is clear that his biggest stimuli are his family and his language: “They [the doctors] were maybe asking him to stick his tongue out and nothing happened, but when I asked, he did it. He understands. He is there. He just needs the stimulation. He needs Icelandic.”

The family have been informed a medical evacuation flight to Iceland will cost eight million krónur. They have not yet found any party willing to foot that bill.

“We have been in contact with citizen services, the health insurance agency, the insurance company, the ministry of health, and have really hit a brick wall everywhere trying to get help to bring him home,” Hildur says.

She adds that everyone seems to point to everyone else, leaving his family clueless about what to do next. Loved ones are taking turns going to Spain to spend time with Gísli, and a friend who lives in Torrevieja is visiting in between.

“If he had nobody there, what then? Then he would have just been there, overseas,” Kolbrún Gígja says—adding that every day is important for his future chances of recovery. “Every minute makes a difference, especially when it comes to the brain. He needs help and he is not getting it. We want to get him home.”

Elísa, Hildur, and Kolbrún say they can wait no longer and have decided to launch a collection to bring Gísli home. Anyone wishing to support the family’s efforts can transfer donations to 0511-14-025021, Kt: 300890-2109.

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Alexander Elliott
Fréttastofa RÚV