Border lockdown in Guatemala traps Vancouver couple

Clark County

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — What was supposed to be a fun family trip to Central America turned into a nightmare for a Vancouver couple after efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus shut down the border in Guatemala.

The Jamison Family took a cruise on March 5 on the Panama Canal. A week later, Jim Jamison developed complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and had to be hospitalized.

Most of the group went back home to the United States but Jim—who was still on a ventilator in a Guatemalan hospital on Friday—and his wife, Mary Lynn, stayed behind to wait for medical transport.

But now the border is closed and the couple has been told they can’t go home.

“We just want them back in the states so he can get the treatment that we know he really needs and get him as close to home or back here to Portland,” said Mary Lynn’s sister, Karris Paradee.

Jim and Mary Lynn also had to pay their medical bills upfront— a sum that has already surpassed $13,000. Officials at the U.S. Embassy have told the couple they can’t get involved in medical issues.

“[Mary Lynn] doesn’t know from one day to the other what is going to happen,” Paradee said. “She has been told three times that the medivac is OK’ed to come in and then—two to three hours after that—have been told, ‘Oh no, they can’t.'”

The family told KOIN 6 News they have reached out to several local and state leaders. On Friday, the office of Washington Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler told the family they will communicate with the local consulate on their behalf.

Meanwhile, they said they haven’t been able to get any answers from the consulate.

“The biggest fear we all have is that he won’t come home,” Paradee said.

The family has set up a GoFundMe account to help with expenses.

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