British grandmother-of-five, 62, faces race against time for operation

British grandmother-of-five, 62, faces race against time to raise £60,000 for emergency heart operation after insurers ‘refused to cover cost’ when she fell ill on dream holiday to Jamaica

  • Debbie Willcock, 62, was on holiday in Jamaica when nightmare unfolded

A British grandmother-of-five on a dream holiday to Jamaica is facing a race against time to fund £60,000 for a heart operation – after an insurance company refused to cover the cost.

Debbie Willcock, 62, is currently in an Intensive Care Unit in Montego Bay after suffering a cardiac arrest on Thursday. 

Social and community support worker Mrs Willcock, who is from Bolton, had flown out with her family last Wednesday.

She had been enjoying a day out on the beach in the sun when she was suddenly struck down without warning.

When the ambulance was called relatives say the medics immediately asked for $300 to take her to Accident and Emergency. 

Then after medics stabilised her with treatment costing the equivalent to some £16,000, they were hit by a bombshell new bill for over five times that amount for a stent operation to save her.

To make matters worse MailOnline has been told her insurance has refused to pay out, claiming she did not mention she had diabetes on the policy.

Debbie Willcock, 62, pictured here with husband Mike, is seriously ill in a Jamaican hospital

The family had set off last Wednesday from Manchester Airport the day before she fell ill

Now her family have been forced to launch a crowdfunder online to try and recoup the money and raise £60,000 so she can undergo an emergency heart operation and be moved to a hospital in Kingston.

Her children Ashleigh and Aaron as well as husband Mike are by her side hoping the crucial medical treatment can take place and paid for.

Mrs Willcock’s five grandchildren are also in Jamaica with them during the worrying time.

Friend Sophie Rhone, who is representing the family, told MailOnline: ‘Debbie would give her last pound to help you.

‘She has been a support and community care worker and has given everything her whole life to help other people.

‘The situation is a real race against time. Watching her family go through this nightmare is unbearable.

‘Debbie had taken out premium insurance but forgot to put on she had diabetes.

Debbie is seen here with daughter Ashley and son Aaron enjoying the beach in happier times

‘When this all happened the family spoke to the insurers, who had received the medical notes, and were told they wouldn’t pay because of this being missed off.

‘The family have put £16,000 down with the hospital as a kind of deposit, which has been made up from Mike’s pension as well as cash from family and friends.

‘But Debbie desperately needs heart surgery and a stent fitted fast.’ 

The fundraising appeal has already reached over £6,000 mostly from well-wishers who know the popular community figure.

Expensive costs for medical treatment in Jamaica has hit British holidaymakers before.

In 2018 three of them same family ended up in hospital for completely different reasons racking up medical bills of £21,000.

Dominic Pitter, 36, and his wife Emily, 42, paid £9,000 for their five-star holiday to a resort on Jamaica’s west coast.

But on the second day disaster struck and Mr Pitter suffered a perforated bowel and was rushed to hospital. His treatment ended up costing £16,000.

While he was recovering his daughter Amelia, 12, was also hospitalised with acute gastroenteritis.

Her drip and re-hydration treatment cost the family, from Derby, another £920. 

Meanwhile, Mr Pitter’s father Len, 66, decided to fly out to Jamaica to be by his bedside. But catastrophe struck again when he had a heart attack. 

His three-day hospital stay cost £4,600. He also had to extend his stay by a month until he was well enough to fly back to the UK.  They were eventually refunded by their insurers.

For Mrs Willcock and her family at the moment it appears they will not be able to recoup their costs.

Mr Rhone added:  ‘Debbie is awake but very confused and has lost a lot of her memory of what happened.

‘Her family are just distraught and fell a bit helpless.

‘It seems to be that the hospital will not do anything else without knowing the funding – which keeps changing – is there. It’s a terrible situation.’ 

Mrs Willcock’s insurers have been approached for comment. 

Fundraiser for Deborah Willcock for medical treatment

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