The grieving husband of a gran who died on a dream holiday to Cuba claims his wife was left to die in squalid conditions – because they ran out of money.
Sheila Dumbleton, 57, fell ill six days into a birthday trip to the Caribbean island and spent weeks in hospital before passing away on July 11.
Cuban authorities have now told her widower Ray, 69, they will not return her body until he pays her medical bill which could be as high as £20,000.
Her insurance firm refused to cover her, leaving Ray’s son Lance and Sheila’s children Erica and Graham frantically trying to raise the money and bring Sheila’s body home.
Yesterday (Sun) Ray claimed his wife would still be alive if the medics had done their jobs properly.
Speaking from his home in Rednal, Birmingham, retired bricklayer Ray said: “Sheila was left to die because we had no money to pay for treatment, it’s as simple as that.
“If she had fallen ill in this country she would still be here.
“As soon as the hospital knew we couldn’t pay, they just left her to deteriorate.
“All the doctors kept saying to us was ‘payment, payment’ but we simply didn’t have that sort of money to give them.
“The first week she was in hospital she was in intensive care and the treatment was excellent but within hours of me telling them we had no money she was shunted into a ward with six men and women.
“The conditions were horrendous, she didn’t have any dignity and her breasts were exposed when the sheet slipped off, the nurses did nothing to cover her up.
“There were no monitors on her to check her pulse and she no drip. She was left to die in hell.
“There were dead bodies just left uncovered. It was as if they didn’t care about people’s dignity.”
Shockingly, when Shelia passed away Ray was forbidden from paying his respects.
He said: “I had gone back to the hotel for some sleep when I got a call to my room to come to reception.
“When I got down there the receptionist said to me ‘I’ve got bad news, your wife’s just died.’
“I couldn’t believe it. He even said that if I wanted to call the hospital myself the cost of the call would be added to my hotel bill.
“I asked for a taxi so I could see Sheila and pay my respects but the receptionist refused saying it was against Cuban law.
“I will never get that chance again. They have broken my heart.
“I kept saying ‘Forget the Cuban law, I want to see my wife’. But they would not allow me to have that last moment with her.
“I felt powerless over there. At one point they even threatened to put me in prison if I carried on demanding to see her.
“As soon as Sheila died, it felt like they just couldn’t get me out of the country quick enough.
“It was like nothing I had ever seen before – I was treated like a VIP, ushered straight through customs and there were no security checks.
“Now I am glad to be back home but I will not rest until Sheila is back here with her family so we can bury her and grieve.”
The family, who set up a Gofundme page, have raised £7,100 towards her medical bills and the cost of repatriating her body but need to find around £13,00 more.
Ray added: “My biggest fear is that the authorities won’t give us Sheila’s body until we raise the money to pay for her bills.
“We’re completely in limbo.”
Sheila and Ray, who had been married for 34 years, flew to the Cuban beach resort of Holguin on June 6 for a two-week holiday to celebrate her birthday on June 17.
For the first few days it was the dream holiday Sheila had always wanted. The couple spent their time sightseeing and relaxing at the hotel.
But after four days, Sheila began to complain of stomach pains and two days she was rushed to hospital for emergency surgery to stem an internal bleed in her stomach.
Shortly afterwards she contracted pneumonia and suffered a bleed on the brain. The hospital put her in an induced coma for two weeks.
Her family hoped she was “well on the road to recovery” after regaining consciousness but a fortnight later she died.
The family has still not been told the official cause of death.
She leaves behind Ray, her children Erica and Graham, 39, stepson Lance, 30, four grandchildren and her first great-grandchild, who was born six weeks early on Sheila’s birthday when she was in a coma.
Before being able to come to terms with his wife’s death, Raymond was landed with a medical bill of over £20,000 after her travel insurance company declined to pay despite her “gold” policy.
White Horse Insurance Ireland DAC says it will not cover the expenses, claiming Sheila failed to disclose her medical history.
But Ray said she disclosed her type 2 diabetes, for which she paid extra, but did not know about two other conditions, high blood pressure and enlarged veins in the neck.
The insurance company said: “We were very sorry to hear of Mrs Dumbleton’s circumstances.
“Regrettably, as Mrs Dumbleton’s medical history was not disclosed, her claim was not covered by her insurance policy.
“We would like to stress to all holidaymakers how important it is to fully declare any pre-existing medical conditions or ongoing medical investigations when buying travel insurance.”