Wisconsin man got sick visiting Africa, Family flew out to help

Published: Aug. 2, 2023 at 9:24 AM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Traveling abroad is supposed to be a fun and exciting time. However, for one Wisconsin man, his trip turned into a matter of life or death. His family rallied to get him the help he needed.

Earlier this year, Micah Didion took a trip to Benin, Africa to visit friends and the school where he received his MBA. Shortly after arriving, he unexpectedly got sick.

“I kind of was trying to stave it off and I felt like I had kind of symptoms like this before and everything would be fine,” Micah said. “I should have gone to the hospital quicker.”

Through Micah’s friend Jake who lives in Benin, the family got a call that things weren’t getting better.

His brother Brady lives in Eau Claire, as do their parents, and his Sister Kelsey lives in Chicago and didn’t hesitate to get on a plane.

“I think this phone call happened at 8 am and I was on a plane that night,” Kelsey said. “My sister-in-law, Callie, drove from Eau Claire to Chicago to drop Brady off here so he and I could fly out of O’Hare.”

After two flights with a layover in Paris, Kelsey and her brother Brady made it to Benin.

“It was immediately jarring to see the level of care he was getting there, not to disparage them, but they did not have the infrastructure, health care infrastructure, supplies,” Brady Didion said. “They were doing the best with what they had and it wasn’t very much.”

After speaking with the doctors there, Brady says it became clear Micah needed more than what they could offer.

“His kidneys were in failure mode and all of his electrolytes were off and he was developing more complications of sepsis, breathing issues, those sort of things,” Brady said.

It was decided that Micah needed to get to Europe, but with air in his abdomen, a commercial flight was out of the question.

“What saved him and what saved all of us in this, in that sense was really my wife, her friends, my parents, probably principally though my wife, who was on her computer for like probably 72 hours straight throughout the night, connecting with people who could get him an emergency flight,” Brady said.

The family had to come together to try to secure almost $70,000 for a medevac flight to Germany.

“It was a group effort of different people in our family sort of being like, here, put this money on my card, put this money this card, put this on my card,” Kelsey said.

When the jet arrived to take, Brady said the flight surgeon had doubts.

“Her assessment was right on. I mean he was a high risk to have an abdominal emergency on the airplane even with this low altitude flight,” Brady said. “I had a couple of conversations with her and kind of convinced her that he has no other option.”

The night before the flight took off Brady made a difficult call to his parents.

“I was just less than 50/50 that he was going to survive and I had to kind of communicate that to them because I wanted to put them on the phone with him one last time and that was really very unbelievably hard,” Brady said.

With nerves kicked into high gear, the flight took off, flying at a lower-than-normal altitude.

“We were flying over Switzerland and southern Germany, but it was when we hit those mountains when the flight surgeon was like, he’s going to be okay,” Brady said.

They landed in Nuremberg, Germany where Micah went to a hospital outside of the city. He ended up needing six surgeries over the course of 13 days.

“My parents come, my wife comes, my sister comes and spends some time and eventually they progressively leave, go home, and then it’s kind of finally back to me and Micah,” Brady said. “And then we get on a plane, which was another crazy journey home.”

The cause of what made Micah sick in the first place wasn’t figured out, but Micah says he’s grateful he survived.

“Thankful I get another second chance at this,” Micah said.

Micah says his friend Jake who lives in Benin played a crucial role in relaying information to his family.

Also, a family member set up a Go-Fund-Me page earlier this year around the time Micah got sick to help recoup some of the funds for the Medevac flight. Over $46,000 was raised thanks to donations from friends, family, and even strangers.

The Didion Family says they are grateful for all the love and support shown throughout that difficult time.