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How would it feel to live in one country for 30 years, fall into a coma and wake up in a different country? Posted by on Jun 26, 2013 in Countries, Health, Regulations

The questions is good, but of course it depends where you would like to be? For some people it could be a dream, for others a nightmare…

Sixty-nine-year-old Władysław Haniszewski had lived in the U.S. for about 30 years. But when the New Jersey resident fell into a coma he awoke to find himself in his native country of Poland.

Haniszewski fell victim to a growing phenomenon in which uninsured immigrants are deported by U.S. hospitals that do not want to get stuck paying for their treatment.

Supposedly, Haniszewski was placed on a chartered flight while still unconscious, never giving his consent to being shipped to a hospital in a country he had not lived in for decades.

The practice of medical repatriation has reportedly become increasingly common. One immigration advocacy group said that it has documented at least 800 cases of individuals being deported from hospitals without consent over the past six years in at least 15 states. However, the actual number is believed to be much higher because of the significant number of cases that go unreported.

There is an ongoing debate over the legality and morality of medical repatriation. Under U.S. law, hospitals are required to gain patient consent, from either the individual directly or an immediate family member, before having the individual deported. The federal government is not directly involved in the cases and does not pay for the cost of deportation. In April, “Colbert Report” host Stephen Colbert weighed in on the controversy, saying sarcastically, “It’s totally unregulated, so hospitals avoid all the red tape usually involved in shipping the unconscious.”

Haniszewski has reportedly fallen on hard times in recent years. Friends say that he recently lost his apartment and job, and was forced to relocate to a shelter.

The Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick is defending its actions, saying it took the necessary precautions before placing Haniszewski on an outbound flight.

Crazy story, but I guess it happens quite a lot!

Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)

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About the Author:Kasia

My name is Kasia Scontsas. I grew up in Lublin, Poland and moved to Warsaw to study International Business. I have passion for languages: any languages! Currently I live in New Hampshire. I enjoy skiing, kayaking, biking and paddle boarding. My husband speaks a little Polish, but our daughters are fluent in it! I wanted to make sure that they can communicate with their Polish relatives in our native language. Teaching them Polish since they were born was the best thing I could have given them! I have been writing about learning Polish language and culture for Transparent Language’s Polish Blog since 2010.


  1. Karola:

    I can’t believe you would use a comedy show as a reference. What a joke!?! [Stephen Colbert character is a fictional character portrayed by comedian and actor Stephen Colbert.] Yes this tragic thing may happen but not as often as you make out. If it was true half of the people in hospital in California, Arizona and other states would empty out hospitals. Sad to say I wish that more people would be sent back over the southern boarder instead of abusing our system here in the States. My parents and I immigrated legally here many years ago. I know all the sad stories but believe me sending sick people out of the country and back to their origin does not happen as often as you presented. I have worked in the medical field for over 30 years. Interesting point of view needs more real research not reference from a extreme one sided comedian like Colbert.

  2. John:

    This just seems really wrong. Just because one is an immigrant you’re deported. If I move to Ohio from Pennsylvania, and end up in a hospital there, will they deport me to Pennsylvania? This is just wrong.