For most of the last year, Oneida's Chad King has worked in hurricane-torn Puerto Rico, working as part of a utilities crew to help recovery efforts on the island devastated by a powerful tropical cyclone last fall. Now it's King who needs help, after falling ill in the Puerto Rican capital of San Juan.
The 37-year-old was admitted to a hospital on Feb. 7, where he was diagnosed with flu — type A and type B — along with pneumonia. He had a fever as high as 109 the day he was admitted to the hospital.
King was discovered unresponsive in his apartment by a coworker after his wife, Oneida beauty shop owner Heather King, requested that the coworker check in on him.
Seven days later, King remains critically ill. He is suffering from a brain infection and physicians in San Juan have discovered that he has experienced a series of strokes. His wife and mother, Eva Pennington, have traveled to San Juan to be by his side, and are working fervently to find a way to move him to a hospital on the U.S. mainland, probably in Florida due to the short distance he can travel in his condition.
According to family, the need to transport King is two-fold: not only can he receive better care in the mainland, but his health insurance is not accepted in San Juan.
The cost for a medical flight to transport King is $30,000. Friends of the family have set up a GoFundMe account, which had raised approximately $4,000 in two days as of Wednesday afternoon.
Donations can also be made at United Cumberland Bank, where patrons can instruct tellers to deposit money into the Kings' account.
There have been a number of fundraisers planned locally. Among them, Trophy Masters has teamed up with Heavenly Homemade to make t-shirts, which can be pre-ordered by stopping by Heather King's shop, Bee Flawless Hair Studio on Main Street in downtown Oneida, or by Heavenly Homemade. The Appalachian Ministry Center in Winfield is planning a spaghetti luncheon and prayer meeting for Sunday, and volunteers are being sought to assist. Food will be served from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. at the ministry center, which is housed in the old Winfield School, with spaghetti plates sold by donation.