Dying Dane Created Heated Debate

Jan Johansen, a Danish tourist hospitalized in Pattaya for over a month, passed away early in the morning on Thursday 5 January 2006. Jan Johansen was 49 and died of brain hemorrhage and other internal bleeding.
The case of Jan Johansen became much talked about this Christmas in Denmark because the daily newspaper BT told the story of the man, who went to Thailand without buying a health insurance.
When he fell ill, he was at first coughing up blood, but soon he started bleeding in the brain. He had brain surgery and was kept for over a month in ICU and by then his hospital bill was over 1 mill. Baht.
At first, the bill was sent to his parents, but they didn’t have any money. Then a lawyer took the case and said that the Danish government or his home municipality Holbak should pay his hospital bill in Thailand.
The Danish public became excited and was soon divided in two camps: One group said it was just too bad for the poor guy, but the public should not support him as he had only himself to blame for not buying any insurance. The other group said the society should take responsibility and pay the bill and some started a private collection to help the parents pay the bill.
Suddenly an anonymous couple, a ship owner and his wife living in the same municipality as Jan Johansen, came forward and donated one million Danish kroner to the parents. The money was to pay for his hospitalization in Pattaya and for his home transportation, which SOS International had offered to arrange for 800,000 kroner.
However, just when a happy ending was in sight, the doctors arriving Pattaya on board the German ambulance plane, which was chartered by SOS to pick up Jan Johansen, refused to take the patient on board. They estimated that he would probably die within one hour after take off if they did.
The donors of the money and Jan’s parents said, they were OK with this risk, but the doctors said they were not actors in a reality show and it would be tantamount to killing the patient.
Then the Danish TV station TV2 took up the case. In a short news documentary, the journalist proved that the Thai hospital had all along said that Jan Johansen could not be moved and the German doctors said that the papers forwarded to them before their departure from Germany had also been clear that the patient should not be moved.
Now the Danish public was divided in two camps again. One group suspected SOS of having been greedy and too tempted by the generous check to think clearly and evaluate the medical record thoroughly. The other group said the doctors were hypocrites when refusing on ethical ground to run the risk of transporting him back to Denmark – especially because the same doctors had no problems suggesting the hospital to stop the medication and let Jan Johansen die a “natural” death in the Thai hospital. That would also kill him – only slower, they said.
Eventually Jan Johansen died exactly 36 hours after the ambulance plane left from Pattaya and returned to Europe without him.


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About Gregers Møller

Editor-in-Chief • ScandAsia Publishing Co., Ltd. • Bangkok, Thailand

View all posts by Gregers Møller

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