Oklahoma City native Sean Jones moved to South Korea in June 2012 to teach English. Now, he is battling a rare form of encephalitis and, while his family would like him to return to the United States to get treatment, a South Korean hospital will not permit Jones to leave until he pays his $40,000 hospital bill.
"He made a lot of friends. He just loves being around people," said Jones’s brother, Brandon. "Sean is just one of those people that can actually just get to know anyone. It's not really hard for him."
According to News 9 in Oklahoma, Jones was diagnosed with anti-NMDA encephalitis. Anti-NMDA encephalitis is an auto-immune disease that causes the brain to swell. Symptoms include paranoia, mania, personality changes, and being catatonic, just to name a few.
Jones was initially misdiagnosed after visiting a doctor and expressing to his friends that he felt sick, but was reevaluated after being admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU) in Seoul, Korea. In May, he was diagnosed with encephalitis.
"The first time I saw him, he looked like himself. But he was not quite there. Like his brain had reset. He would actually move and look at me, but he wouldn't say anything. He was almost child-like," said Brandon.
Jones did receive treatment and it seems to have worked. Though he lost a lot of weight due to internal bleeding, the English teacher can eat and talk without assistance. Now his family wants him home, but his treatment left him with a medical bill that stands at $34,000. The hospital has threatened to block Jones’s passport if he tries to leave the country without paying his bill.
The Jones family has begun a Facebook campaign to help raise money to cover his medical expenses and bring him home to be with the people he loves.
"The goal is really just to help with his medical bills, and hopefully there is no speed bumps, and we can actually get him back to the United States," said Brandon. "He's looking at least a year or two years of rehab before he can even go back to work."
For information on how you can donate to bring Jones home, visit GiveForward.com.