Raleigh couple thankful to be home after medical emergency abroad

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Raleigh couple thankful to be home after a medical emergency in Costa Rica (WTVD)

A Raleigh couple is thankful to be back in North Carolina after a medical emergency turned their week-long Costa Rica vacation to celebrate their 31st wedding anniversary into a month-long stay in the ICU.

Gail and Johnny Core had just returned from ziplining on May 15, the day before their anniversary, when everything changed.

"Johnny started to lose his balance," Gail explained. "And, when the elevator doors opened, he fell to the ground and I could see the way his right arm was that it was a stroke condition," Gail Core said.

Johnny went from a medical clinic to being airlifted to a hospital that didn't take his health insurance. He was then driven by ambulance to Hospital La Catolica in San Jose where it was discovered his stroke was severe.

"It was a life or death situation and they said he needed to have a craniectomy," Gail Core said.

As news spread back in Raleigh about what the Core's were going through, the community came together to offer support.

A GoFundMe surpassed a $50,000 goal and continues to receive donations.

The Core's remained in Costa Rica for a month as Gail faced challenges of dealing with her health insurance, BCBS, and their global care department to get her husband accepted into a stroke rehabilitation program back in Raleigh.

Gail said she was thankful they had purchased travel insurance for the trip as that covered the flight home with a nurse for Johnny, but, it was contingent on being accepted into a rehabilitation program.

The Core's case was finally expedited when a former BCBS employee saw a social media post about the challenges they were facing trying to get their case handled from thousands of miles away. After landing in Costa Rica on May 11th, the couple finally made it back to RDU on June 11 and Johnny is now in stroke rehabilitation at North Duke Regional Hospital.

"Anytime you travel I recommend taking out travel insurance program," Core said. "Because they help you navigate, they supply the nurse for the trip home and all our transportation to and from airport and airport to where Johnny is at now at North Duke Regional Hospital, I'm just so thankful," she said.

"I was just very happy that insurance stepped up to meet our needs as well," she added.

Gail Core hopes she and her husband can one day return to Costa Rica to thank the doctors and nurses there who took such great care of her family.

"Don't take things for granted," she said. "You never know what's going to happen, just be kind to people and love each other because you just never know."
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