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#175978 - 04/20/05 08:02 AM Ellis Nicholas - Emergency
Buckstop Offline
On March 23, 2005, divemaster Ellis Nicholas was thrown from the bow of the Paradise Down dive boat by a large wave in the reef channel. Although several others were thrown from the boat, Ellis sustained the only serious injury. The prow of the boat struck him in the head, and the propeller wash drew him into the blades. Ellis suffered a severe laceration to the anterior and lateral right forearm. After nine days at Karl Huesner (public) Hospital, in Belize City, he was tranferred -- at the suggestion of the attending physician -- to Hospital Centro Medico in Guatemala City. The following is a transcript of two separate, typed hard copies issued and signed by Dr. Gustavo Lopez, the Guatemalan surgeon who reconstructed the arm.

Please note: These letters were not written by a native English speaker, and we have tried to maintain the original wording throughout. Also, the estimated hospital bill, as stated in Letter #2, has already been exceeded and continues to increase daily. As of April 17th the combined cost of surgical fees and hospital fees was $21,034.73. The hospital is holding Ellis's passport and will not release him until the bill is canceled in its entirety.

If you have questions, or would like further information, please contact Ellen Nicholas at ellennicholas@hotmail.com, or Dr. Lopez at ccdelamano@guate.net.

We're in the process of establishing a trust fund for Ellis, and all contributions would be greatly appreciated. Checks may be sent to Ryan Fried c/o of Rhonda Fried, 601 Breckenridge, Wayne, NJ 07470-4074.

Thank you for your time.


Ellis's friends and family

Letter #1

April 07th, 2005


We have the privilege to see Mr. Ellis Nicholas on April 1st on admission to Hospital Centro Medico with a large defect on his right forearm. He was admitted to the operating room and we performed an evaluation and a debridgement and a dressing change of his wounds. On Saturday, April 2nd, we performed two free flaps.

Microsurgical tissue transfers were performed on his right hand. Microvascular nerve transfer from his right leg and a vein to supply [blood] flow to the hand. And then a muscle from his back to cover the defect on his forearm, twenty-four for twenty-two centimeters of defect.

This procedure involved eleven hours of surgery and a team of surgeons highly trained in microsurgery and very special equipment.

At this moment the patient is quite well, with all his defects covered. We have to wait for antibiotic treatment for at least two weeks.

At this moment our surgical fee is U.S. $10,000. . . .


Gustavo A. Lopez Paz
Hand surgery

Letter #2

April 07th, 2005

In addition to the surgical fees, the [current] hospital charge will be approximately $15,000 [Please see note above].

This includes hospital stay, surgical time, intensive care unit fees, and medicines such as antibiotics and painkillers, respiratory therapy and dressing changes.

For a period of six months from today [April 7th, 2005] , Ellis will require phyisical therapy every day ($5,000) and at that time we will evaluate his functions and decide what further surgery he will require. We can expect loss of flexion and extention in his fingers. He will need a muscle free tissue transfer from his leg. If sensation is still compromised, he will need a free nerve transfer.

The potential cost of these procedures would be approx. $20,000.

The total cost of rehabilitating the arm would then be between forty-five to fifty thousand dollars U.S.


Gustavo Lopez
Hand surgery

#175979 - 04/20/05 09:03 AM Re: Ellis Nicholas - Emergency
Wendy Offline
Ellis is a well known and liked tour guide on Caye Caulker.

#175980 - 04/20/05 01:26 PM Re: Ellis Nicholas - Emergency
dbdoberman Offline
Sorry to hear that Ellis is going through this, and I pray for his speedy recovering. I want to help, but am always cautious about sending funds to somebody I don't know. It makes it a whole lot easier to send to somebody in NJ, but who is this person? Wow, they can hold his passport in lieu of payment? That's nutz.

#175981 - 04/20/05 03:47 PM Re: Ellis Nicholas - Emergency
Amanda Syme Offline
At least Ellis can be thankful that he was admitted and attended to prior to showing the ability to pay.

People die in this region because the government hospital cannot always offer the necessary care and treatment, and the private hospital won't admit you without payment up front.

This is not novel to this area either - I remember when I was first pregnant with my first child, I was in the US. At the same time the pregnancy was confirmed I was asked to make my first deposit to the hospital to guarantee care - a deposit 9 months before care was required!

Unfortunately this is yet another instance that proves that, although not cheap, medical insurance is a vital neccesity when you live in a country that has limited medical facilities and abilities.

#175982 - 04/20/05 10:12 PM Re: Ellis Nicholas - Emergency
Buckstop Offline
Dbdoberman wrote "It makes it a whole lot easier to send to somebody in NJ, but who is this person?"

I am Ryan Fried, a close friend of Ellis's, who is with him in Guatemala. When Ellis's sister, Ellen and I discussed this fund raising effort, we decided that there should be a US address where checks can be recieved, and we chose my parents house in New Jersey. If it makes you more comfortable, send your contribution to:

Ellen Nicholas
c/o Seaside Cabanas
Caye Caulker
Belize, Central America

Thanks for your support.

#175983 - 04/21/05 10:37 AM Re: Ellis Nicholas - Emergency
dbdoberman Offline
Thanks for the clarification, Ryan. I am sure that there are many generous people who will help out with this request. I bet alot of folks remember Ellis. I don't know him, but still have great sympathy for him.

#175984 - 05/03/05 04:35 AM Re: Ellis Nicholas - Emergency
Buckstop Offline
A website, to help raise funds for Ellis, is now online at www.SaveEllis.org


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