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John Ryan Kent's Medical Fund

$32,666 of $160,000 goal

Raised by 147 people in 5 months
UPDATED APRIL 4, 2018

JOHN IS BACK IN THE USA! -- see updates

On Sunday, December 10th, 2017, my youngest brother John Ryan Kent suffered a devastating accident in Beijing, China.  While riding his motorbike on a dark highway, he was blinded by oncoming lights and hit the end of a concrete Jersey barrier head-on. He was thrown and knocked unconscious. Besides a head laceration, he suffered serious spinal cord injuries to his upper C3-C7 vertebrae, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down

John spent one month confined to the ICU of Peking University Third Hospital, Beijing. His heart stopped during surgery and we feared he would not pull through,  but he did. This photograph was taken by a friend of his in China about mid-January, when he had a trachea tube and was unable to speak. 


John's accident has been heartbreaking for his family and friends. After a long and difficult life searching for an occupation that would give his life meaning, he found  his calling as a teacher.  After teaching English as a second language in South Korea, he finally landed a much more rewarding job,  teaching biology to middle school students at a private school in Beijing. He found real joy and satisfaction as a teacher, and by all accounts he was respected by his students and peers. He was on the verge of creating a STEM program,  when this accident happened. 


Whether John will ever teach again -- let alone walk, or be able to write, or hug another person, or experience so many of life's little pleasures that so many of us take for granted, is now up to us.  The focus of this campaign is to get John home to the USA, and admitted to a good rehabilitation hospital. John's recovery will not be easy, and it will take a long time.

Since we began this campaign, so many friends and family have opened their hearts and generously donated  to John's fund. Not only will this money help John repay his debts, but it will assist him with expenses not covered by Health insurance or SSDI (assuming he qualifies for that).

Here is a rough estimate of expenses we are trying to raise right now (NOTE: This has been updated as April 4, 2018 -- we are seeking to raise about half the money we orginally planned on, as we have learned more about costs)

Air Ambulance Transport, Beijing to US: $60,000
Hospital, Physician, PT costs in the US: $50,000

Aside from the Air Ambulance, for which we have received quotes, the other expenses are estimates based on the advice of others.   We have applied for VA benefits for John (John served in the U.S. Navy from 1984 - 1987) and other health insurance for him, including Medicaid and MassHealth.

Our biggest concern is that in order for John to have the best chance of recovery, he may well be requiring services and support beyond what insurance will pay for. This is why this fund is so important. 

Because I am acting as John's Designated Health Agent, I am planning on flying him home to a hospital in Massachusetts. There are some very good hospitals in Boston, such as Mass General, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, and the VA Spinal Cord Injury Hospital. 

The clock is ticking.  John has exhausted all of his savings -- all of his salary earned in China has been applied toward his hospital bills. He will not be able to return to teaching for quite some time, perhaps years.  Meanwhile, his debts and hospital bills in Beijing continue to mount.  And his Chinese work visa will soon expire. 

Far from home, cut off from family and friends and a teaching job he loved, John is feeling understandably lonely, isolated, and depressed. We don't want him to give up. He wants to -- and needs to -- come home now. 


John in the U.S. Navy, 1984

Lastly, I would just like to say, thank you. If you are reading this, then thank you for reading this. If you can give anything, remember every dollar counts. No donation is too small. These are difficult times for many people. So if you just hold John and his family in the Light, or say a prayer, or think about him -- that's okay too. 

I will post updates as this campaign proceeds. 

Thank you.
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On Thursday, March 22nd, my brother John arrived at Boston's Logan Airport on a Turkish Airlines Flight. I met his ambulance at the airport and rode with him to Mass General Hospital. Our father John met us at the hospital. It was a happy reunion.

Since John arrived, I have been too busy to post updates. The last month was a constant flurry of activity -- many phone calls between myself, John's circle of friends in China, officials from his school, officials from the US Embassy, and officials from the State of Massachusetts involved in planning for his care here in the US.

Although we never reached our goal to pay for John's Air Ambulance, The US Embassy in Beijing worked on John's behalf to secure a Repatriation Loan for him, to speed the process along and get him home as soon as possible. This is a program offered to American Citizens who are in situations like John's.

Since Mid-March, I had not been posting updates partly because I was busy trying to arrange for John's return, but also because there were some well-meaning people who had posted some very erroneous information on Facebook that could have jeopardized our senstive discussions with involved parties overseas.

Once John's repatriation loan was approved, he was told he could fly home when a flight became available. It turns out a flight would not be available for several weeks. John was flown home on a "commercial stretcher." This is a type of medical flight that is much less expensive than a private air ambulance jet. Basically, an air ambulance company buys 9-11 seats at the rear of an aircraft on a regulary scheduled flight. A stretcher or gurney occupies a block of those seats, and two paramedics accompany the patient.

We were told that the block of seats would be removed and that an ambulance style gurney would be wheeled into place in that empty space. In fact, upon arrival in Boston, my brother told me that he was placed on a stretcher ON TOP OF THE SEATS. So in fact, the entire journey his face was only about six-nine inches from the overhead luggage bins.

He had a very long trip, starting with real, literal, 11th hour drama. At 11:00 PM his time in Beijing, I began receiving frantic phone calls from our friend Vivian Li in China, who was accompanying him to the airport. With John's flight due to depart in less than two hours, he and the paramedics were prevented from proceeding through security to the airplane. it was unclear if the ambulance was supposed to drive out on the tarmac to meet the plane, or if the paramedics were supposed to take John on a gurney through the airport. But for over an hour I was on the phone calling the US State Department, the US Embassy in Beijing, The Air Ambulance Company in Houston, and also Vivian Li and a few other people at the Beijing airport. It was all resolved about thirty minutes before takeoff, and I probably only lost two years of my own life.

His flight connected with another flight in Istanbul (He did not appreciate my attempt at levity when I told him it would be really ironic if after all that time stuck in Beijing his plane got hijacked to Syria from Turkey). Each leg of his journey was about 11-12 hours long, with a nine hour layover in Istanbul.

EXCEPT--wait for it--the snowstorm (which never happened) that caused his flight to be grounded in Istanbul (okay so not hijacked). The air ambulance paramedics, both of whom were from Texas (One of them was named Rusty. I felt like my brother was in good hands with two paramedics from Texas, one of them named Rusty. Instead of two guys named Todd and Chester, for example) let me know that they were working on finding a hotel room for my brother for the extra day spent there.

So instead of arriving on Wednesday the 21st, as planned, my brother flew in the following evening, landing about 7:20 pm.

A Boston Ambulance Company, Armstrong Ambulance, was waiting outside the airport for the all clear to drive in and get John. I waited outside the airport in the lobby of a service area for small executive jets -- looking every inch the sort of person who never flies on private executive jets, not even as cargo.

Soon I received a text that they were outside ready for me. I climbed inside and there he was -- my brother John. I almost couldn't believe it, after three months and endless late night phone calls and so much agony and angst about when how and where to get him home.

Of course, as we rode to Mass General, I also realized that this was just the end of one chapter -- his time in China -- and that an entirely new chapter in his recovery was about to begin.
03.22/18: John arrives at Logan Airport
John and me at MGH ER, March 22
My Dad, John, also in the ER with John
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I received a phone call last night at about 3:00 AM. With Beijing being 13 hours ahead of the East Coast, these late night/early morning calls are frequent. John was calling (He asks a nurse or caregiver to call and they hold the phone to his ear) and telling me it would still be several days before he could be moved to physio rehab, as the ENT doctor wants to keep the trachea tube in several days longer. John was very unhappy about this -- he is anxious to begin his physio as soon as possible. I have to assume though that the doctors have their reasons. For John I imagine six weeks in his condition could seem like six months. And his room in this hospital is lonely, and will be lonelier still, soon, as this entire month is a holiday for the staff and students at his school. Many of those who visited him have gone away on vacation. This is the month of Chinese New Year, the biggest Holiday in China.

I have noticed a great many Chinese donors on this site. I do not know who you are, but I imagine you are friends, students, or staff at the school. I do not know if anyone shows John this web site. I tell him that lots of his friends in the US and in China are donating, of course. And I know he appreciates this greatly. And, speaking on behalf of John and his family, I can say we are deeply moved by the generosity of his circle of friends in China.

1966. My new brother John
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Hello. I have some very good news to share, but first I want to thank the many, many donors who have been contributing to this campaign. John is so fortunate to have you in his circle of care. If I have not thanked you personally yet, I will. Frankly, I was unprepared for how quickly this campaign has taken off -- which is a very good problem to have!

Now, the good news: John was recently moved out of the ICU into a regular hospital room. Which means his health is getting stronger. They changed his breathing tube around the same time and he has been speaking. It is still a bit difficult, with the trachea tube, but being able to communicate with him has been wonderful. He has had friends visiting him from the school almost every day. Being out of the ICU means his friends can visit for a longer time as well.

The MOST exciting news is that just two days ago, John began to move his left leg! This is the first time since the accident that he has been able to move either of his legs. So far it seems his movement is confined to his left side. But still, this is very encouraging.

His doctor has advised us that it is essential that we get him started with physical rehabilitation as soon as possible, and so we have made arrangements to do that. And thanks to your donations, we are able to pay for physical therapy for him right away, while he is waiting to be brought home. His doctor -- and other specialists, both in China and here at home, have advised us that now is the critical time for John to receive this therapy -- as opposed to six months from now. A good metaphor to think of for his nervous system is "rebooting".

Also, Chinese hospital and PT costs are a fraction of what they are in the US. So even though we would like John home now, at least we can get him started on the road to recovery right away.

My brother is really struggling, there is no question. And he has a long way to go. And we still have a long way to go in our campaign. But even with what we have raised so far, it has given John much hope, and us as well.

I want all of you to know that -- that your gifts and comments have profoundly inspired us. Thank you.
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$32,666 of $160,000 goal

Raised by 147 people in 5 months
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