Relatives of a Blyth woman who in is hospital after falling seriously ill on a cruise thousands of miles away are working in the UK and in Mexico to get her home.
Joyce Kettle was enjoying a holiday after booking with Marella Cruises, operated by TUI UK, until she began suffering from severe breathing difficulties on board the Marella Discovery 2.
The cruise ship returned to port so the 74-year-old could be taken to hospital in Cozumel, a holiday island near Cancun.
Three stents needed to be put into her heart in an emergency operation last week.
She is now recovering, but her family was informed that her medical bill is more than $72,000 – equivalent to £51,000 – and this amount is expected to get bigger.
They started an online fund-raising page to help cover the costs of getting Joyce home after finding out that her holiday insurance through her bank only covers her for European trips.
It has so far raised more than £14,000.
Earlier this week, youngest daughter Leanne and her partner Les Chrisp flew out to Mexico and got a ferry to Cozumel, where they have been speaking with doctors at the hospital.
Leanne praised a number of people in an update post on the fund-raising page the day before they left the UK.
It includes the following: ‘We’ve spoken to TUI and finally had some wonderful progress in the form of travel arrangements after meeting local MP Ronnie Campbell.
‘We spoke to Joyce via FaceTime thanks to a lady in Cozumel who has visited Joyce, thus putting our minds at ease that she’s safe and being cared for.
‘A rather emotional call for both Joyce and us as you’d imagine, but Joyce is looking well and just wanting to get home as you’d expect.
‘We’d like to (again) thank everyone for the unbelievable emotional and financial support we’ve received in this difficult time.
‘It’s at times like these we realise how blessed we are to know such amazing people – both friends and family.
‘We’re also amazed at our local community and even strangers who have sent messages of support. Your help and support has been instrumental in getting us through this situation’.
A spokeswoman for Marella Cruises said: “We’re sorry to hear that Ms Kettle has been taken ill while on her cruise and hope she gets well soon.
“Our cruise team supported the customer with the arrangements for her to seek medical assistance in Mexico and have been in close contact with the customer’s family.
“We will always offer suitable travel insurance when booking a holiday through us, however we would like to remind customers that prefer to organise their own travel insurance that they need to ensure that their coverage is of a suitable level and covers the destination that they’re travelling to.”
To make a donation to the appeal, go to www.gofundme.com/getjoycehome