Actor Tyler Perry has reached out to an Atlanta couple who had a medical emergency during a vacation in Mexico and cannot afford to pay the medical bill.
Stephen Johnson and his fiancee Tori Austin were travelling on a Carnival Dream cruise ship when he suddenly fell ill and was diagnosed with pancreatitis, diabetes and a kidney infection, reports aceshowbiz.com.
They ended up in Mexican hospital called Centro Medico Americano in Progreso, where he was treated with dialysis and other procedures to alleviate his condition.
According to Good Morning America, he spent three days in intensive care.
Once he was on the mend, the couple was charged with a $14,000 bill that they’re unable to pay, because they don’t have health or travelers’ insurance. The couple says the hospital barred them from leaving until they make the payment.
Austin says she asked if they could work out a payment plan once they were back in the US, but her request was denied.
They claim the hospital locked the doors, a supervisor became physical in restricting them from leaving, and a threat was made to call the police if the couple tried to leave.
In an interview from his hospital room, Johnson told CBS46 he was going through “hell”.
He describes his situation: “I very much so am a hostage”. His fiancee added: “It’s been a nightmare. We just want to come home.”
Austin says that they reached out to the US Embassy in Mexico to no avail.
Their families later started a GoFundMe page, but it hardly reached the amount they need to cover the medical bill. Perry apparently caught wind of the couple’s situation and offered to pay it himself.
According to tmz.com, the 50-year-old comedian/writer/director called up the hospital and gave them his credit card info to cover the tab, but the hospital requested that he wires the money, which he already did.
The payment is expected to be accepted by Monday, and Johnson is scheduled to be discharged on Tuesday.
There were concerns that Johnson would have to be flown back in a medevac plane, and Perry was prepared to cover the travel expense too. However, it turns out that he will be well enough to fly back in commercial flight.