A father-of-four is fighting for his life after falling critically ill while on holiday in Moldova.
Ronnie Slade, 62, from Woburn, had been visiting a friend when he came down with flu, which then developed into bilateral pneumonia.
Since being admitted to a Moldovan hospital last Tuesday, Ronnie has also suffered from acute respiratory distress syndrome and renal failure – leaving him on a life support machine in a near terminal state.
The 62-year-old’s family are now battling to airlift him back to the UK for lifesaving treatment, but they face a £20,000 bill.
Ronnie’s daughter Carly, of Milton Keynes, said: “It was unbelievably shocking, one minute he was sending us Whatsapp messages saying he was having a great time and the next we hear about this.
“To begin with all we got was a message through Facebook which read ‘SOS Ronnie’ as no-one there could speak English.
“Dad’s phone had been taken so we had no method of getting in touch with him.”
“We started phoning round the embassies and hospitals but didn’t have any luck again.”
Carly, 27, added: “We got in contact with the Red Cross in Moldova and they managed to locate him and get us in touch with the hospital.
“In the first discussion we had we heard the words ‘near terminal’ and it was very shocking.”
Ronnie’s four children– Carly, Laura, Holly and Luke – were told that while doctors are doing everything they can to keep their father alive, his best hope for survival is to return to the UK.
As he is not covered by insurance and cannot travel by ambulance Ronnie’s only hope is to be airlifted back.
Ironically a reciprocal healthcare agreement between the UK and Moldova ended on New Year’s Day – meaning that if the 62-year-old had fallen ill a fortnight earlier he would have been fully covered.
Carly said: “Dad is still critical but has been stable over the last few days and has been able to have a few hours a day without the breathing machine.
“We are now in a position where he has made slight improvements but we need to get him back where he is covered and has modern treatments available to him as the care he has now is very basic.
“We’ve been told that if he was insured we’d be flying him back today to have the best chance of survival.”
With the help of a nurse Ronnie’s family have been able to put all the arrangements for his return in place, but they now face a race against time to raise £20,000 needed for the transport.
In addition to an online fund– which has raised £4,250 in two days– Carly, Laura, Holly and Luke are doing everything they can to bring Ronnie home.
Carly said: “The reaction to the fund has been unbelievable, there’s even been donations from people I went to school with.
“Since putting it live we’ve also had so much help and advice from people without us going to them.
“To have had such an amazing reaction from everyone has given us hope that we can get him back.”
> To donate to Ronnie’s online fund log on to https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/saveronnie