Steinbach family stuck with $100K medical bill after mother's stroke

A family from Steinbach is facing more than $100,000 in medical bills after a family reunion turned into a crisis earlier this month.

Woman travels from India without travel insurance, has 'massive' stroke day before birth of grandson

Ashish Thakkar (right) and his wife (left) had their first-born son on Oct. 2. Thakkar's mom travelled to Manitoba from India for the birth but had a serious stroke the day before her grandson was born. She has been unresponsive ever since. (Courtney Rutherford/CBC)

A family from Steinbach is facing more than $100,000 in medical bills after a family reunion turned into a crisis earlier this month.

Ashish Thakkar's parents travelled to Steinbach from India in August to witness the birth of their grandson. They arrived weeks before the birth.

While the family was preparing for the baby's arrival, Manjula Thakkar, Ashish Thakkar's mother, suffered a stroke. She was taken to hospital in Winnipeg on Oct. 1.

Her grandson was born the next day.
Manjula Thakkar (right) and her husband (centre) travelled to Manitoba from India in August. (CBC)

"Surgery was not possible due to the massive stroke, so doctors suggested she has to be under observation for a number of months while she recovers and then she will be able to go back to India," said Ashish Thakkar.

Manjula Thakkar's condition was upgraded to stable on the day of her stroke, though she has remained unresponsive in a hospital in Steinbach since then.

After a month in hospital, the Thakkars' are now up against mounting medical bills they say they can't afford to pay, as Manjula Thakkar and her husband did not purchase travel insurance before leaving India. The Canadian government requires that long-term visitors to Canada have medical insurance, but people travelling on a visitor's visa do not have to provide proof of insurance.

Thakkar said the medical costs are making a bad situation worse.

"I just need the baby and my mom alive ... because she was with the hopes that she would see the grandson in her hands," said Ashish Thakkar, adding he has had to take a leave from work because the doctors say his mother could be in hospital for months.

$2.6K per day

At about $2,600 per day, Ashish Thakkar estimated the total cost of his mother's medical bills will soon be hovering in the $200,000 range.
Ashish Thakkar (right) holds his newborn son in front of his grandmother Manjula Thakkar (left). She remains unresponsive and in the hospital.

"I don't have a big savings in my account and I have to take care of my family and day to day routine," said Ashish Thakkar. "Life, it becomes more challenging for me."

Ashish Thakkar said he and his family are grateful to the kind and hard-working hospital staff who continue to look after his mother, adding they've all learned a lot from the experience.

He has since purchased health insurance for his father while he remains in Manitoba. Thakkar said he hopes his story helps remind other international travellers planning trips to Canada about the importance of buying insurance.

The Thakkars have set up a GoFundMe page to help raise money to pay for Manjula Thakkar's medical bills. As of Sunday night, the campaign had raised about $4,000.

"Really thankful to them for understanding the situation," said Ashish Thakkar. "It feels great that people are there to support. There is humanity living yet in the world, and I'm hoping the best comes out of it." 


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