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Chinese hospital will not release Wheeling native

WHEELING, W.Va. – Friends and family of a Marshall County native in a coma at a Chinese hospital are trying to get the man home, but first have to pay his medical bill that already has reached $21,000.


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

John Berisford, 36, a 1996 graduate of John Marshall High School, was teaching English at a Chinese university when he became ill in March. He fell into a coma and has been in the hospital since.

Melissa Brandon, a friend of Berisford’s, said his doctors have deemed him stable, but he cannot fly in a commercial airplane. He must be transported via air ambulance.

“Family and friends are working tirelessly to raise funds to bring this man home. In addition to paying for the air ambulance transportation, the hospital bill in China must also be paid – in full – prior to his release,” Brandon said. “The cost to bring him home, as of two weeks ago, totals $20,000 for the hospital charges and $65,000 for the transportation.”

Berisford’s sister Dawn Borosko of Youngstown, Ohio, said she last talked to her brother March 13, and the next day she received a call that he had been admitted to the Yangzhou People’s No. 1 Hospital in Yangzhou, China.

“We had a full conversation. He was supposed to get on a plane to come home, and sure enough I get a call at 1 a.m. here saying he was in critical condition – but no one can give me answers as to why,” Borosko said.

The woman who called Borosko said she was one of Berisford’s colleagues at the school where he was teaching. But Borosko said she still has not been able to determine which university he was working at, that the woman refused to tell her. She did offer to do some translations between her and hospital officials.

“We’re trying to get answers. It’s a non-English speaking hospital. I’ve been talking with the State Department and the U.S. Embassy and Consulate. They’ve been relaying messages back and forth,”?she said.

West Virginia Sen. Jeff Kessler and U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller “have been a huge help, she said. “In China, if someone goes into the hospital they have to stay there until the bill is paid. … The Chinese government has its own set of rules.”

Rockefeller spokesman Andrew Beckner said the senator is working to assist Berisford and his family, “including being in touch with the Chinese Embassy and reviewing his health insurance options once he’s back in the United States…

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