MARTINSVILLE, Ind. – A newborn preemie who was being held “hostage” by a Cancun hospital was finally released and arrived at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis Thursday.
"It’s been awful," Beckham's aunt Amanda Smith told CBS4 in an exclusive interview shortly after Beckham arrived. "I mean, it’s been a roller coaster. It’s been from, you’re at rock bottom, we thought we were getting somewhere, we’re back down, we thought we were getting somewhere."
The nightmare started for Martinsville couple Michaela Smith and Larry Ralph Jr. shortly after their first child was born.
Michaela gave birth to Beckham 12 weeks early while they were on vacation in Mexico. He weighed just two pounds, eight ounces.
Shortly after his birth, the family says the hospital demanded they pay $13,000 for Beckham’s first day of care and various other fees.
"It wasn’t so much the quality of care as it was the staff and the outrageous demands of the hospital," said another aunt, Becca Ewert. "When it comes to the nurses and doctors, he was literally saying, they were going over and beyond. They did everything they could. He could tell they cared about the baby."
But the family says the hospital administration told them Beckham couldn’t leave until they paid the entire bill up front. The total kept changing but was last pegged at $30,000, just two hours after the family was told it would be $27,000.
They decided to call Greenwood city councilor Ezra Hill, who in turn reached out to Representative Trey Hollingsworth's staff for help.
"Our family is going to be forever indebted to them," said Ewert. "From the second we got a phone call to them, they never, ever stopped. It’s way more than a job to them."
Ewert and Smith say they were still receiving phone calls from Hollingsworth's staff well into the night and early morning hours trying to make sure Plan A and Plan B were still intact. As the family waited for Beckham's arrival at Riley Hospital for Children, Hollingsworth and the key staff who worked 24/7 to resolve the issue joined them.
Senator Donnelly's office stated they reached out to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico on Thursday.
Fortunately, Thursday afternoon, the hospital released the family with a reduced negotiated bill and they boarded a medical jet to head back to the United States.
That jet cost the family $30,800 up front to transport Beckham all the way back to Indiana.
The family says every dollar spent was worth it to end a potentially life-and-death situation.
"It’s family," said Ewert. "There’s nothing more important than that. There isn’t."