Parents stranded overseas after baby's death
IT HAD started as a perfect Caribbean holiday for a happily growing family.
Chloe Sullivan, who was pregnant with her second child, her fiance Michael Parrott and four-year-old daughter were on holiday in the Dominican Republic for one last getaway as a family of three before the new baby arrived.
But the holiday ended in tragedy when the baby went into distress and died - and the grieving family, from Kent in the UK, weren't allowed to leave the island and go home until they fronted up almost $AU30,000 they didn't have.
The nightmare began on Sunday night when Ms Sullivan "noticed something unusual down below and spoke with a midwife who advised her to go straight to hospital", according to Mr Parrott's cousin, Harry Cottam, on a fundraising page for the family.
At the International Medical Group private hospital in Punta Cana, Ms Sullivan and Mr Parrott were told they had to pay a deposit to see the doctor, which they did.
But Mr Cottam said they told hospital staff if any further treatment was needed that their travel insurance couldn't cover, they wouldn't be able to pay for it.
Ms Sullivan was rushed into an emergency C-section and delivered the baby boy, named Arlo.
The newborn was taken to a neonatal ward without his parents getting a chance to see him.
Mr Cottam said doctors told the couple early on Monday morning Arlo was distressed, having respiratory problems and persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN). The newborn died that morning.
And then the family's nightmare went from bad to worse.
Mr Cottam said the couple wanted to take Arlo's body home to the UK but the hospital "threatened to dispose of his body unless they could make a payment (of $5100) the same day as his death".
They were able to pay the bill with the help of Mr Sullivan's dad.
Then, the hospital refused to let the family leave unless they paid the total cost of their medical bills, which was $29,500, despite the surgery originally being quoted at $15,500.
The couple reportedly offered to pay in instalments but the hospital refused. They also weren't allowed to leave their room, which was under police and security guard.
"Chloe's four-year-old daughter was with them the whole time, I can't imagine how scared she must have felt," Mr Cottam said.
"The hospital threatened to contact Interpol and said that if they did not hand over their passports they would ensure they could not leave the country."
Ms Sullivan eventually agreed to hand over her passport so she could return to the privacy of their hotel room.
The British embassy reportedly advised the couple to pay the bill as it wasn't able to intervene.
Thankfully, a GoFundMe page set up by Mr Cottam surpassed its goal in just one day, which meant the family would be able to pay their bill in full, collect Ms Sullivan's passport and return home.
A relieved Ms Sullivan posted on the page to thank people who had donated.
"We just want to say thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, to all of our friends, family and people we don't know who have generously donated to allow us the opportunity to receive both mine and Arlo's medical records, my passport and the medication I need to allow me on a flight back home," she wrote.
"In a very dark and hard time you have helped to shine a little ray of light and given us the breathing space to start to grieve for our son."