Nicola Fox and Kayla Heagney: Aussie couple’s holiday to Bali ends in $8000 medical bill

Chloe Maher
The Nightly
Nicola Fox and Kayla Heagney’s trip to the budget-friendly holiday destination left them $8000 out of pocket after severe illness struck.
Nicola Fox and Kayla Heagney’s trip to the budget-friendly holiday destination left them $8000 out of pocket after severe illness struck. Credit: Kayla Heagney/Instagram

Nicola Fox and Kayla Heagney jetted to Bali on what they thought would be a heavenly 30th birthday celebration.

The couple travelled from Newcastle to the island destination with Nicolas’s 2-year-old son before the expensive nightmare soon began.

Kayla fell ill with what she thought was just a case of “Bali Belly” after she said she felt “pain across the middle of my belly.”

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“I’d been six or seven times before and never got it, so I thought I jinxed myself and had Bali belly.”

The 29-year-old was hospitalised with severe abdominal pain and was admitted to the intensive care unit.

It was then discovered she had acute pancreatitis and was placed on a feeding tube.

“I was being told that if I didn’t have the tube put down into my stomach, it would be the worst outcome,” she told A Current Affair.

“And obviously, I think the worst outcome would be death.”

Recalling the “traumatic” experience, Nicola explained how Kayla was “pinned” to the hospital bed at one point.

“They pinned her down on the bed, and she was vomiting everywhere, she told Yahoo.

“Vomit was coming out of her nose through the tube, and it was coming from her mouth. The doctor and nurse just threw paper towels at me and left, and I had to clean the vomit off her chest.”

Nicola called Kayla’s travel insurer, Budget Direct, to make sure the hefty medical bill would be covered.

On the phone, Nicola was told by the Insurer it would take at least 24 hours to confirm Kayla’s condition wasn’t pre-existing.

While they waited to hear if Kayla was covered, her condition deteriorated.

The couple were left $8000 out of pocket after severe illness struck.
The couple were left $8000 out of pocket after severe illness struck. Credit: Kayla Heagney/Instagram

A doctor in New South Wales advised them to fly home as soon as possible, but a doctor in Bali said their travel insurance would no longer be valid if they did so.

“I would be asking to see doctors or nurses, and they wouldn’t come. So I felt like this was the only opportunity I had to get home and get the treatment, which meant going against what the travel insurance was telling us,” Kayla said.

Already thousands of dollars out of pocket and feeling like she “wasn’t going to make it,” the couple decided to fly back to Australia.

Kayla was seen by doctors when she arrived back home, who said a lot of the treatment she received was not necessary, and crucial hydration measures were not exercised.

The couple want their experience to be a lesson for fellow travellers.

“What we experienced in the hospital is definitely not a reflection of the Bali that we know and love … our whole aim is to educate others,” Nicola said.

“I think it’s just really making sure that you are so stringent with insurance. I thought that buying a comprehensive cover was enough.

Kayla said she was pinned to the hospital bed at one point and covered in vomit.
Kayla said she was pinned to the hospital bed at one point and covered in vomit. Credit: Kayla Heagney/Instagram

“We were fortunate that we did have a little bit of money to fall back on, but that money quickly ran out … get the right cover.”

A Budget Direct spokesperson told A Current Affair: “Our travel insurance is backed by a highly trained and specialist medical assistance team, including doctors with several years of aeromedical and repatriation experience.

“While Australian GPs have amazing general experience, they may not have the same depth of specialist knowledge or training in aeromedical safety. We advise Australian travellers to carefully consider the risks of flying without being cleared as ‘fit-to-fly’ by a local treating doctor in location.

“Our medical assistance team includes highly experienced skilled nurses, paramedics, and doctors who handle complex cases on a daily and global basis with professionalism.”

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