London - A British couple whose daughter was born while they were on holiday have accused a Turkish hospital of holding their baby ‘hostage’ to ensure a £94 000 (about R1.7 million) medical bill was paid.
After being born prematurely, Ayda Ward was treated in intensive care and remained in hospital for two-and-a-half months.
Her parents, Adele Blake and Brandon Ward, claim hospital management treated them appallingly – confiscating their passports and allowing them little time with their tiny baby.
Harsh hospital rules meant Mr Ward, 19, was allowed no direct contact with his daughter. He only met her in person for the first time when she was 11 weeks old. Even when Ayda was well enough to be discharged, hospital staff would still not release her while they wrangled with the couple’s insurers, they said.
It was only after they complained to the police that they were able to get Ayda released. The family had full insurance to cover the huge medical costs, but say they were given little help by their insurers Atlas Direct, who initially claimed they had lost the paperwork and then ignored their increasingly desperate phone calls.
Miss Blake, 28, told MailOnline: "The hospital management and our insurers should be ashamed of the way they treated us."
"It’s completely disgusting to hold our baby hostage and deny us the chance to bond with her while they squabble over a bill."
"I was told they needed their money or they would keep the baby and we wouldn’t be allowed to return to the UK. They were clearly holding our baby as collateral and didn’t think there was anything wrong in that?...?They only seemed to care about their bill."
She added: "We’re treasuring every moment with Ayda now. We missed out on the first three months of her life thanks to them."
Miss Blake, from Bradford, West Yorkshire, was six months pregnant and declared ‘fit to fly’ by her GP when the family jetted off for a holiday in the resort of Marmaris on June 26.
Three days later she went into labour and ended up having a caesarean section at Tekden Hospital in Denizli, which has a specialist paediatric unit.
The demands for money started almost immediately after Miss Blake came round from her operation. "I was groggy and confused and really only wanted to see my baby but they wheeled me down to the office, insisting I make a down payment," she said.
Miss Blake said she could only see her baby for ten minutes a day, and that doctors repeatedly came up with reasons not to release Ayda, adding: "Every time we asked, the doctor would say she needed another ten or 15 days.’ Meanwhile, the bill was rising by £1 200 (about R22 000) a day. One manager told Miss Blake: "We need payment and you will have to stay here until we get it – people have left babies before and never returned."
Miss Blake said she also received a text from a hospital administrator instructing her to tell Atlas they would not discharge Ayda ‘without a prepayment’.
The couple eventually contacted the local police, who they said were ‘brilliant’ and told them the hospital had ‘no right’ to keep Ayda. They finally flew home on September 20. An Atlas Direct spokesperson said: "At the time the case was opened, there was information provided by the treating doctor which we had to verify with Miss Blake’s GP, which in turn had to be reviewed by our medical team."
"Our priority has always been to provide the best medical outcome for both mum and baby. Unfortunately some delays did occur. However, at no point was the treatment of Adele and her baby compromised." A hospital manager said the treatment of baby Ayda ‘was exemplary and to date we still remain unpaid’. The hospital declined to comment further.