ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – A father of two who fell into a coma and was hospitalized in Peru is now back home with his family.
We first told you about Antonio Cuevas last month. Cuevas had become stranded in Peru due to his family’s lack of funds to get him back to the United States. His family then called 8 On Your Side for help.
Cuevas is now back and recovering in the United States. Our story caught the attention of former Florida Governor, now Congressman, Charlie Crist, who helped arrange his diplomatic release and medical transport flight back to his home in New Jersey.
Cuevas’ aunt, Clarissa Wood of St. Petersburg, first called 8 On Your Side in June.
“It’s been quite an experience, a bad and painful experience,” said Wood.
Rep. Crist and his office worked through several diplomatic channels to secure Cuevas’ safe flight back home, while the family kept vigilant.
“We had to set up meetings with the U.S. Embassy in Lima, Peru – the capital – to make sure there was clearance from them. As a member of Congress, that gives us an opportunity through the State Department, to set up some meetings and explain the situation and humanize what was happening to this American,” said Crist.
From there, the family was able to get a loan for medical transport with Sarasota-based Air Medical Group. The company then flew Cuevas back to a hospital near his home in New Jersey.
“I got involved in helping my staff organize a plan of action, in getting him out of Lima, Peru. We had one of our Critical Care nurses, that was fully equipt and trained to manage his condition to bring him back,” said Air Medical Group CEO, Joe Gonzales.
Now, Cuevas is back on U.S. soil, but he isn’t out of the woods just yet.
“He has to get rehab to learn how to talk, walk and eat again,” said Wood.
Wood tells 8 On Your Side, it still remains a mystery as to what caused her nephew to fall ill in the first place. But what she does know is he’s home due to the compassion of others.
“We are very happy to be able to help get him home,” said Gonzales.
“All of these things just added together for us to do the right thing and we are very pleased that it worked out well for Antonio,” said Congressman Crist.
In the meantime, Cuevas’ family has a GoFundMe page to help alleviate some of the financial burdens they still face.