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  1. ITV Report

Family pleads for help after mum becomes stranded in Mexico with £200k medical bill

A mother who was on holiday celebrating her birthday has been left with thousands of pounds to pay after falling ill.

Maxine Howell was in Cancún, Mexico for her 50th birthday when she was struck down with pneumonia and bronchiolitis.

She was taken to hospital for life saving treatment which has now left her in £200,000 worth of debt.

Her holiday insurer Axa told her family it will not cover the bulk of her treatment costs.

Ms Howell's family said the refusal was because she had been prescribed an inhaler in the last few years.

Her family said they didn't know she had an inhaler as she didn't use it.

Maxine Howell was left fighting for survival thousands of miles from home. Credit: BPM Media

Ms Howell’s daughter, Elle Lowe, said:

She was in hospital and medics carried out a procedure to take fluid off her lungs and put her in a medically-induced coma.Knowing my mum went on a dream holiday and could never return is terrifying.Days after her procedure, the insurance firm asked us to send her documents.Then it phoned to say it read the medical reviews and because she didn’t disclose she was taking medication for bipolar disorder, or that she was prescribed an inhaler two years ago, it would only pay 10.25 per cent of the costs."

– Elle Lowe, Ms Howell's daughter
She was rushed to hospital for life saving surgery which has now left her in debt. Credit: BPM Media

AXA said in a response to the family:

Whilst our thoughts are with Mrs Howell and her family, we are unable to comment on the specific circumstances at this time.Our priority is our customers’ wellbeing, and to ensure that when they need it, they get our support. Even in the event of non-disclosure of full medical history, we do our best to help them get the care they need.We encourage all holidaymakers to keep their insurer updated with their medical conditions, to ensure that their policies remain valid, and that they get the appropriate level of protection for their needs."

– AXA, Insurance Company

The family has launched a desperate fundraising appeal with a £200,000 target to cover the bill.

Maxine's family have been told by the insurers that she will be flown back to Birmingham QE11 Hospital in the next couple of days.

That is because Maxine's kidneys have deteriorated and the insurers believe the cost of flying her back will be similar to the cost of caring for her in Mexico.

The cost of the journey back will be added to the bill.