A 21-month-old infant from the Canary Islands suddenly diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder while visiting his surfer grandfather in Indonesia has finally landed back in Spain after an emergency medivac.
The flight was organised after his parents were trapped in the country with the infant due to a clause in an insurance policy that they had to fight so that their child could be treated in Spain.
Mateo Dominguez Mercade, the 21-month-old infant from the Canary Islands who began to display symptoms of Autoimmune Haemolytic Anaemia (AIHA) while holidaying with his family, was hospitalised at the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at the Sanglah Central General Hospital in the city of Denpasar in Bali, Indonesia on 16th September.
His parents, Sonia and Iban, raised over EUR 30,000 campaigning for Mateo’s treatment and subsequent flight home on a medical plane after they were trapped in the country due to cancelled return tickets.
That meant that an insurance policy would no longer pay their medical bills while they holidayed in Bali.
Sonia told local media: “We are not bad or irresponsible parents, we had Mateo in the family coverage, but we did not know that if we cancelled our return ticket (because in the end we wanted to return for Christmas) the insurance would not cover us, since they no longer considered it a trip.”
Due to the fact that healthcare in Indonesia is mainly private, the family was confronted with a EUR 2,600 bill on the first few days of Mateo’s hospitalisation before they were expected to pay EUR 1000 (GBP 900) a day for the child’s treatment, according to Mateo’s ‘DonorBox’ page, ‘We’re all with Mateo’ (Todos con Mateo).
The small family was also trying to raise enough money for a medical flight home for Mateo as he could not receive the correct treatment in Bali due to a lack of medical resources and was in need of regular blood transfusions from donors from O-negative and O-positive blood groups, which are hard to come by in Bali, according to the page.
The Spanish Ambassador in Bali reportedly brought the case to the attention of Spanish Health Minister Carolina Darias along with the Minister of Industry in Spain, Reyes Maroto, during a G20 conference taking place in Indonesia.
The officials then announced the successful completion of an operation carried out that saw Mateo and his family placed on a medical flight to Spain before they landed in Barcelona and the infant was transferred to the Sant Joan de Deu Hospital, according to local media reports from 25th September.
The operation was organised by Iberia and Qatar Airways along with Doctor Evarist Feliu, the Josep Carreras Foundation and the medical team that treated Mateo in Bali, according to the officials.
AIHA is considered to be a rare type of anaemia that causes the immune system to mistake red blood cells for foreign substances and destroy them.
The condition is considered to be highly manageable but can be fatal without the correct treatment, which can include surgery, medication and in some cases, blood transfusions, according to medical experts.
Mateo reportedly began to display AIHA symptoms for reasons unknown while the family was visiting the infant’s grandfather, a legendary ex-surfer known as Alfredo ‘El Petrolero’ (the oil tanker), a Canary Islands native who currently resides in Bali in Indonesia, the biggest island country or archipelagic state in the world.