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Iowa mom and baby stranded after giving birth abroad

Wendy Morrow, who was seven months pregnant, was ready to board the plane at the Hong Kong International Airport to visit her brother in Xiamen, China, but mome...
By Naomi Ng

HONG KONG (CNN) -- Wendy Morrow, who was seven months pregnant, was ready to board the plane at the Hong Kong International Airport to visit her brother in Xiamen, China, but moments before she got to the gate -- her water broke.

Soon she found herself facing an unlikely predicament. With her U.S. health insurance not covering the mounting medical fees her newborn son requires, the hospital had initially withheld his birth certificate.

And without a birth certificate, the U.S. embassy cannot issue a passport for baby Kyuss to return home to Iowa. The baby's mother said they were told that they couldn't get the birth certificate until the hospital bill was paid in full.

Since the baby was born on May 7, the family has been stuck in Hong Kong. But on Friday, they received word that the hospital would issue a birth certificate for Kyuss on Saturday after receiving media attention.

"I cannot believe the hospital just called us and said they are releasing the birth certificate to us now!" Sara Morrow, the mother's sister told CNN in an email.

Kyuss, who was born 8 weeks early, now lies in an incubator in the special care unit at Princess Margaret Hospital. When he was born, his lungs were underdeveloped and he needed to be hooked to an oxygen tank.

"We don't like having the feeling of being stuck here. The pressure is on trying to get the medical bills paid and we just want to be able to go home with the baby," Morrow said.

CNN reached out to the hospital multiple times. Its spokesperson said they were working on an official statement, but it had not been sent by the time of publication.

Costly medical bills

With Kyuss receiving special medical care, the hospital bill has gone up to $20,000 and counting since he was admitted. Each day that he spends in the hospital costs another $1,600, according to Morrow.

The family reached out to the Congressman Steve King's office in the state of Iowa, who wrote to them in an email saying that Medicare/Medicaid health insurance would not be able to pay medical bills resulting from treatment in foreign hospitals.

One of their travel insurances would not cover it either because the baby was not named on the insurance -- something that the family finds to be baffling.

"How could we have put (his name) on it when the baby wasn't even born?" Morrow said.

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, told them in an email that his office would try to make an inquiry on the case.

In the meantime, the family has set up multiple fundraisers for medical expenses and additional costs related to their unplanned stay in Hong Kong.

Kyuss is slowly getting stronger, and doctors have told the family that he can be released in a week, and would be fit for flying. Doctors recommended that it would be best if a medical nurse could fly with them, along with a battery-operated oxygen machine in case he had trouble breathing in high altitudes.

Separated from their families, the only thing the Morrows say they can do, is wait.

"It's hard for both of us," Morrow said. "Wendy has a 4-year-old at home...I have four kids at home and we both run our own businesses."