Sunday, December 30, 2012

Ecuador: US Tourist, 74, Falls, Dies in Galapagos Islands

A 74-year-old woman from the US died on Saturday (December 29) after she fell and struck her head while visiting the famed tortoise breeding grounds in Ecuador’s Galapagos islands.

The woman sustained an open head injury and lost consciousness while touring in a remote area of the islands, where emergency medical treatment was unavailable.

The American woman and her traveling companions arrived in the islands on Friday (December 28) and were scheduled to remain there until January 4.

COMMENT: As I have emphasized on numerous occasions in the past, it is essential that elderly travelers have a complete physical examination before traveling abroad to identify any health risks that might produce falls, particularly in countries where emergency medical treatment is not available.

Additionally, all seniors should ensure that they obtain international medical treatment and evacuation insurance before leaving home, in the event they fall ill or are injured while abroad. Otherwise, they may be forced to pay for treatment in advance before treatment is authorized. Normally, such coverage runs less than $10 a day.

Ironically, a week ago, an American mountain hiker, Douglas Bernard Kirby, 69, died from a heart attack on December 22, while climbing Cotopaxi Volcano, also in Ecuador. The lingering question is whether he had preexisting health conditions that warranted his NOT participating in strenuous activity.

As I have said many times in the past, dying abroad is never a pleasant experience, for the victim or their family members.