Canadian boy who was stranded in Cuba still ill after surgery

An ill Canadian boy who was stuck in Cuba and operated on before he was medically cleared to fly is now back home — but he’s still sick, his mother says.

Doctors are still trying to figure out exactly what's wrong with Cole Antinello

Caledonia Centennial School student Cole Antinello had surgery in Cuba on Friday after falling ill on vacation. Now, his family is trying to get him home. (Nicole Antinello)

An ill Canadian boy who was stuck in Cuba and operated on before he was medically cleared to fly is now back home — but he's still sick, his mother says.

Cole Antinello of Caledonia, Ont. ended up in surgery in a Cuban hospital while he was on vacation earlier this month, after officials pulled him off a plane, saying he was too ill to fly.

The seven-year-old was diagnosed with appendicitis and had his appendix removed, though his mother isn't sure that was the right diagnosis. He wasn't able to leave Cuba until he received medical clearance, and the family's travel insurance provider paid their medical bills.

Cole is home now, but he's still having problems, says his mother, Nicole Antinello. He has had diarrhea for over a week, and now has green bile in his stool, she said.

"The [Canadian] doctors think it was a tummy bug this whole time, but they can't say for sure without the appendix," Antinello said. "There's no answers just yet, we're still doing tests."

Antinello (second from left) is seen here on vacation with her son Cole, as well as her daughter and mother. (Nicole Antinello)

Cole is currently being examined at McMaster Children's hospital, she said. He's had diagnostic imaging tests and blood work. Doctors also checked to make sure that none of his other organs were removed, Antinello said.

"Which is kind of really scary," she said.

Antinello first flew to Cuba for a holiday on July 14 with Cole, alongside her 76-year-old mother and her 16-year-old daughter.

Towards the end of the trip, the family started experiencing flu-like symptoms, she said. It hit Cole the hardest — and officials flagged the Caledonia Centennial School student as too sick to fly when sitting in his seat on the tarmac in Cuba for the flight home.

More than anything, Antinello just wants to get her son well, she says.

"Until he's 100% better, I won't be able to sleep properly."


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Adam Carter


Adam Carter is a Newfoundlander who now calls Toronto home. He enjoys a good story and playing loud music. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamCarterCBC or drop him an email at adam.carter@cbc.ca.