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Comatose Moundsville native returning to U.S.

Photo from The Intelligencer/Wheeling New-Register John Berisford
Photo from The Intelligencer/Wheeling New-Register
John Berisford

WHEELING, W.Va. — John Berisford – the Moundsville native who was in a coma in a Chinese hospital – was expected to arrive at the Cleveland Clinic this morning thanks to an anonymous donor who gave about $60,000 to pay off his medical bill.

Berisford’s sister, Dawn Borosko of Youngstown, on Tuesday said her brother was on an Advanced Air medical flight that traveled from China to the Cleveland Clinic. He was expected to arrive at 1:30 a.m. today.

During the past eight months, individuals and groups gave more than $30,000 toward the cost of paying Berisford’s medical bill, as the Yangzhou People’s No. 1 Hospital refused to let him go until it was paid in full. Money also was needed to cover the cost of the medical flight.

Borosko said one final large donation came from one person and gave Berisford the amount needed to pay the hospital bill and medical flight. She said the donor wishes to remain anonymous.

“I won’t even tell my own mother,” Borosko said.

She said did not know the person beforehand. The total needed was about $96,000, which means the donor gave about $60,000.

Borosko said she is relieved to finally have her brother back in the United States. She said she was told he was in stable condition and that he had no bed sores. Although he can breathe on his own, he still has some assistance, including a feeding tube in his nose.

Borosko said though the Chinese doctors say Berisford still is in a coma, she said his eyes are open and he responds to stimuli.

“This is a huge relief. This is a weight off my shoulders to have him here, and to get him the care he really needs,” Borosko said. “I’m going to give him a big old hug and big old kiss. I’m going to tell him if he thinks he is going overseas again to teach, he is badly mistaken.”

Exactly what led to Berisford ending up in the hospital still remains a mystery. But Borosko said she learned Berisford was discovered in his apartment by a co-worker and police. She had talked to him on the phone the night before he was to fly home.

“When it all happened, the police taped off his apartment. His money was missing. … This all could be from an attack,” Borosko said. “He was supposed to get on that plane and never made it.”

Berisford, 36, a 1996 graduate of John Marshall High School, was teaching English at a Chinese university when he became ill in March. Berisford’s mother, Mary Livingston, lives in Moundsville. His father, Larry Berisford, died in 2005.

Borosko said she also wanted to thank Sen. Jay Rockefeller, and Wes Holden who works for Rockfeller; West Virginia Senate President Jeff Kessler and Steve McElroy who works in Kessler’s office; and the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Consulate’s Office; and local 4-H Club members.

“I want to thank everyone who donated and helped out. I can’t thank them enough for putting in the time and effort to bring my brother home. Our family is beyond thankful,” she said.

She said students at John Marshall High School raised about $5,200. To reward their efforts, teacher Nicole Shipman is scheduled to have her head shaved on Friday, Borosko said.

As news of Berisford’s situation spread Tuesday, Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., said he and his family were happy to hear Berisford would soon be home.

“We are all thankful that through the generosity of a recent anonymous donation, and the work of the State Department, Mr. Berisford will now be reunited with his family,” he said.

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