A 56-year-old woman from the Bronx named Vilma Soltesz didn't have to die. If only she had been able to board a flight from Hungary to New York, where she could get medical treatment for her kidney disease and diabetes, she may not have died. But because she and her husband were turned away from three different flights, Vilma was unable to get the medical treatment she required and passed away. SO horrible.
What makes absolutely no sense to me is that Vilma -- who was considered obese at over 400 pounds, had one leg, and used a wheelchair -- was able to somehow fly from New York to Hungary in September. And although her travel agent had purchased two plane seats for her, which were both required in order for her to fly, when she and husband Janos boarded a flight home, they were told the airline could not accommodate the ill woman because of her size, according to The New York Post.
Janos says KLM Royal Dutch Airlines attributed the problem to the fact that the airline didn't have a seatbelt extender. So the couple drove five hours to Prague to take a Delta flight. Once they arrived, the airline told them its plastic wheelchair couldn't carry her weight and she couldn't ride on the sky-lift elevator, because apparently the elevator couldn't handle her weight. Ultimately, Delta said in a statement that they were "physically unable to board" her.
So, then, a week later, the couple was supposed to fly Lufthansa to New York via Frankfurt, but once again, Vilma couldn't be moved from her wheelchair to her assigned seats, and once again, they weren't able to fly. A Lufthansa spokesperson said, "The question was never the seat belt. The question was the mobility of the passenger." Wow.
And because Vilma didn't trust Hungary hospitals and doctors to treat her, she ended up dying two days later and was buried in Hungary. What an all-around, totally heartbreaking way for this to all go down ... And no wonder her husband is now taking legal action against the airlines.
In the end, I just hope that no one attempts to turn this into some kind of fearmonger-y, finger-waggy cautionary tale about obesity. To use Vilma's tragedy as an illustrated example of how out of control our obesity epidemic is. It sounds like the woman had many personal, unique health challenges and was perpetually, actively seeking health care to address her issues. We don't know how or why she ended up at 425 pounds, and it shouldn't matter. All that matters, especially now, is that the way her life ended was truly unfortunate.
Here, more details on the story from NBC ...
What's your take on this sad turn of events?
Image via http://nbcnewyork.com