Indianapolis woman warns other travelers after father’s DNR order isn’t honored in Italy

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NAPLES, Italy — An Indianapolis woman is desperately trying to get her dying father home from Italy. He was vacationing there when he suffered a heart attack and stroke.

Sonny Schuldt, 81, is now in a medically-induced coma. Doctors there said there isn’t any hope he will come back from this.

In the United States, he had a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order. He didn’t want to be kept alive by machines. However, Italy does not honor DNR orders.

So now, in order to get him home, Schuldt’s family is going to have to pay upwards of $50,000.

“We just want him home, we just want him here,” said his daughter, Karen Schuldt.

Though this experience has been incredibly difficult, she doesn’t regret taking her father on the trip of a lifetime.

“One of his goals was to go to Sicily because that was part of his background,” said Karen. “And we were in there the day before he had the attack.”

Sonny got to experience nine days on a cruise ship. He was very popular.

“He had like three or four girlfriends on the boat, people who were always coming around and wanting him to hang with him,” said Karen.

The fun ended when Sonny had a heart attack, suffered a stroke and was put into a medically-induced coma.

“They don’t recognize a DNR in Italy. At all,” explained Karen.

Sonny was an Air Force veteran and he was an air traffic controller for 37 years. Karen said he lived a wonderful life, but did not want extraordinary measures to keep him alive.

His family wants to fulfill his wishes, but the Naples hospital he’s in won’t give them what they want. So, they’re trying to fly him home, but it will cost around $100,000 to pay a medical crew to fly him back here.

“The insurance will cover $50,000,” said Karen. “And then there is another chunk of money that we will have to come up with and wire to that company.”

She can’t stress travel insurance enough.

“Now that I look back, that was probably the most important thing that we did right,” said Karen.

Alex Kutin with Travel Leaders Indy agreed. He said travel insurance is very affordable when you consider just how many people end up needing it. He explained that it only averages about nine percent of your total trip cost. Kutin said he has several horror stories to share about times people should have bought travel insurance. Recently, a cruise was canceled and everyone without insurance was out of luck.

Karen is not going to look at this trip as a nightmare. When telling her father’s best friend about what happened, he assured her, this was not a mistake.

“He said you need to know that your dad was having the time of his life,” said Karen.

If you would like to help this family, you can email Karen at

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