Cruise ship returns to Port Canaveral after Florida boy gets infection during trip
Central Florida mom racks up $13k in medical bills on cruise
PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. – A 4-year-old boy is recovering overnight at an Orlando children’s hospital after he went into sepsis during a cruise with his family.
Roman Mejias’ mother, Nicole Mejias, said Roman hit his head and had a small scratch near his eye before boarding Norwegian Sun cruise ship at Port Canaveral Friday.
“He had a little scratch, so I put a little Neosporin on and it was fine. No redness or swelling, no bruise," said Nicole.
Less than 24 hours after boarding the ship bound for Mexico, Nicole says the cut became infected and her son went into sepsis.
“We have no idea what happened, or where the bacteria came from ... We’ve never seen that before. His eye was four to five times larger than it normally is. His fever went up,” said Nicole. "To go from being a normal, playful little boy ... He was lethargic and didn’t want to play. He wasn’t eating anything, drinking anything. It was straight panic mode from there.”
She said he wound up in the infirmary the next day after the cut got infected, and the infection is threatening his brain and his vision.
By the time they docked in Mexico, according to Nicole, Roman’s condition became more severe. The problem was Nicole couldn’t get her son back to the United States.
“They will not airlift us out of here because immigration won’t accept us because we don’t have passports," Nicole said in a video that she posted after speaking with U.S. and local authorities.
She said the captain suggested they get off the boat and go to a Mexican hospital near the port.
“We were advised by someone who works for the consulate not go to a hospital here in Mexico, which looked like a broke down CVS," said Nicole, who added she didn’t want to take the chance of her and her child of being stranded in Mexico without passports to get back into the U.S.
By Monday, the ship’s nurse had to increase Roman’s antibiotics because the infection, which is now in his bloodstream, was getting worse.
During the cruise, Nicole said she racked up more than $13,000 in medical bills. She says she purchased travel health insurance but isn’t sure how much of the medical bills will be covered. Some money has been donated to the GoFundMe campaign she created to cover those expenses.
Bob Cook, a travel agent with Go Travel, tells News 6 that a passport should be a necessity for anyone traveling outside of the country, even if it’s not required for your cruise - in case of an emergency.
“You still need a passport if you want to fly home. Sometimes the US Embassy or the Consulate can help you. For medical emergencies, they have special things they can do to help, but it’s not always guaranteed," said Cook.
Cook also says travel insurance is important to have to protect yourself.
“Travel insurance is probably one of the most important things to have, and after that is to know what coverage you have and how to contact the insurance company," said Cook. “It’s expensive to call from a ship ... it’s more expensive to not react. There may be a small charge, but it’s worth it. If something happens, you should call immediately and get a claim going," said Cook.
Nicole is relieved that her son is doing well. Roman is still on antibiotics and Nicole is not sure yet if he will need surgery.
“This has definitely been a learning experience,” said Nicole.
News 6 reached out to Norwegian Cruise Lines’ public relations team, but have not received a response at this time.
Cook offered some tips when booking a cruise, especially if it’s your first time:
- Do research on travel insurance and make sure to read the entire policy and understand it before purchasing the policy.
- Always check to see whether your own health insurance will cover you in international waters and make sure you get a confirmation in writing.
- If this is your first cruise, consult with a travel agent who can walk you through the steps of picking the right insurance based on the travel agent’s knowledge of the company offering the policy.
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