Trapped in a Medical Nightmare

NJ woman travels to Germany for banned medical treatment, ends up fighting for her life

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Family Photo
    Laura Beckett suffers from RSD which produces extreme pain. She traveled to Germany with hopes of relieving that pain through a procedure that is banned in the United States.

    Karl Beckett of Magnolia, NJ is forced to talk to his wife Laura through an Internet connection. That’s because she's been in a German hospital since November 1st.

    “Hi hon, I love you. Stick your tongue out and let Jill know you can hear me. You need you to hang in there and keep fighting," Beckett tells his wife via the videoconference.

    Stuck in a Medical Nightmare

    [PHI] Stuck in a Medical Nightmare
    A woman travels thousands of miles from home hoping to cure her disease, but now her family says instead of finding a cure she's in the middle of a terrible nightmare.

    Laura suffers from Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), a nervous system disorder leading to constant and extreme pain.

    "She would actually start crying in pain…basically had to crawl upstairs,” Beckett said.

    Laura ended up in a German hospital because the treatment she hoped would relieve her pain is banned in the U.S.

    Called “Special K” on the street, in the treatment doctors give large amounts of the anesthetic Ketamine to induce a five-day coma.

    Karl says local doctor Robert Schwartzman suggested the trip.

    "He said the treatment in Germany was the only hope of getting her any relief.”
       
    But then, Laura’s family says she developed a MRSA staph infection two days into her treatment.

    MRSA is resistant to many antibiotics and Beckett said it has caused so much damage that now Laura can't use her arms or legs. She also needs help breathing and can't talk.

    Their 23-year-old daughter Jillian is in Germany with her mom and sends video home.

    Dr. Schwartzman declined an interview, but said through a spokeswoman that the German coma cure is offered as an option for those who have not benefited from other treatments.

    He said nothing like this has ever happened before and that his office is doing everything possible on behalf of Laura.

    Karl says he doesn't blame anyone but is unprepared for getting his wife home.

    An air ambulance would cost over $71,000 -- money the laid-off heating and air conditioning worker says he doesn’t have.

    He says a generous acquaintance paid about $41,000 for the Ketamine treatment, but that money has run out.

    Karl says Laura’s absence is hardest on their youngest son.
       
    Laura has medical insurance, but it won't cover the cost of getting her back to South Jersey. So the family remains stuck in medical limbo with no idea how or when they'll get Laura home.

    A major airline is now considering flying Laura home on one of thier medical transport planes at a greatly reduced cost or even for free.

    If you would like to help the Beckett family, a trust fund has been set up:

    c/o TD Bank NS, 129 S.Blackhorse Pike Runnemede, NJ 08078