Last June, Jay Comfort flew to the United States from his home in Switzerland to attend his only daughter’s wedding. But the week before the ceremony — on a Friday evening — Comfort said he found himself in “excruciating pain.”
“I tried to gut it out for three hours because of the insurance situation,” said Comfort, a retired teacher and American citizen who has Swiss insurance.
When the pain became unbearable, Comfort called his brother, who drove him and his wife, Nazuna, a few miles to the nearest emergency department, at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s hospital in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
Every bump of the drive was “like someone taking something and just jabbing it into my abdomen,” he said.
At the hospital, Nazuna Konishi Comfort handed over her husband’s Swiss insurance card, which confirmed coverage by Groupe Mutuel. Jay recalled the staff making copies of his insurance card and then treating his acute appendicitis. Doctors performed emergency surgery to remove the inflamed appendix.
Diagnostic tests confirmed he had a rare cancer, which doctors in Switzerland later removed with another surgery after he returned home. “It was a miracle,” Comfort said, adding that the cancer was completely removed.
After his appendectomy, Comfort recalled vomiting and then waiting in a recovery room. In all, he spent about 14 hours at UPMC Williamsport before being …
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