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Around the World and Back: Tips for the International Oxygen Traveler

By: Judy Hartig
PH Patient

I had an experience this last March/April that makes me write to all of you who have to use oxygen.

If you rent a portable oxygen concentrator (POC) from anybody, find out what their response is going to be if you have problems with it.

My POC broke on a cruise to the Holy Land. I tried to call my vender, who advertised support during international travel. In 4 days of calling on the ship satellite phone at $8/minute, I got no response. When I called my travel insurance, they finally got me off the boat - in an ambulance to Rome. No POC was found to get me back home until 4 days later. I had to pay for compressed tanks of oxygen at $40 for 4 hours, pick them up by cab, and cab them to a series of hotels for four days.

The travel insurance, the ship, friends and well traveled relatives tried to find a POC in Greece, Israel and Turkey before we arrived in Rome. I couldn't get off the boat at the ports I had so looked forward to. Luckily, the ship had a floor concentrator I could pull around the decks and plug in. Otherwise, it would have been 6 days and nights in the ship's hospital.

When I got home, I had an email from the vender informing me that I was responsible for the machine and would be billed $10,000. And sure enough, at the bottom of the invoice, it states clearly that if anything happens to the machine, even a natural disaster, the machine is my responsibility. The machine was sent to the factory and I haven't heard anything yet.

When I got home, I looked on other venders' websites and contacted them. The ones I spoke with were very clear that it is impossible to ship a POC outside the USA in a timely manner. Shipping, customs, transport - you name it.  If you have charged your POC, your account will be billed for the POC. Got an extra $5000 in your wallet?

I think it would be the same story if you bought one and something happened.

Now, don't let this discourage you. I hauled those compressed air tanks around Rome in a suitcase. But make sure you know the risks and responsibilities.

Happy travels,
Judy Hartig


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