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Medical evacuation while hiking Kokoda Trail

Travel insurance claim totals over $50,000

Overseas medical: $49,603.87

Additional expenses: $3,628.05

Total claim: $53,231.92

Debra went with a group of 13 people on a Kokoda trail hiking tour to raise money for charity.

Debra was very prepared for this hiking trip – having spent 6 months training, going bush walking, and running as well as hitting the gym to build up her strength and fitness. She also purchased a Cover-More travel insurance policy as part of her trip preparations.

On the second day of the trip, she woke up with a headache which got progressively worse during the course of the day. Her fellow travellers thought she was simply dehydrated.

In fact, she was suffering from a condition called hyponatremia, which leads to an abnormally low concentration of sodium in the blood. Too little sodium can cause the body to malfunction, and extremely low sodium can even be fatal. In Debra's case, diarrhea and excessive sweating combined with drinking a lot of water led to the low sodium concentration and caused her brain to swell, which cut off the circulation in her skull.

Debra's condition wasn't very difficult to treat in a proper medical setting, but if left untreated it could have led to death very quickly. When Cover-More was contacted she was already in a coma. Debra needed urgent medical help, which ultimately meant medical evacuation.

Cover-More spoke to the local helicopter company straight away. However, due to bad weather, they would not be able to evacuate Debra for another couple of days.

Thankfully, Cover-More had some inside knowledge through one of their contacts in Papua New Guinea that a US navy ship, the USS Mercy was in the area. There was a chance they would have the resources to help save Debra's life, so Cover-More got in touch with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs, then contacted the ship's Captain who agreed to step in.

Debra was evacuated via helicopter to the USS Mercy and admitted to their on-board hospital where she was treated.

In order for Debra to have support following the evacuation and during her treatment, Cover-More arranged and flew her mother to stay with her on the USS Mercy with her daughter.

"The best $90 I ever spent", says Debra about her travel insurance purchase.


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