Family members of a Bend man who was seriously wounded when he was stabbed in Ecuador are trying to get him flown to the U.S. for medical treatment before his condition worsens.
Britt Leis, 35, was traveling with his fiancee, Leah Koehn, 24, also of Bend, when they were attacked. Leis was stabbed 18 times between the neck and the small intestine, according to family members.
“Leah was attacked as well, but she has been able to hold this all up and is making sure Britt got to proper medical care,” Shawn Leis, Britt’s stepmother, said.
The couple were at the start of what was to be a six- to 12-month backpacking trip through South America, Leis said.
Tom Towslee, the Oregon spokesman for U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, said he’s working with the family to try to get the couple back in the U.S.
“I know he (Britt) was stabbed and severely wounded and had developed an infection,” Towslee said. “His condition was serious enough his family felt he would be better served in the U.S. than Ecuador.”
Britt Leis was working as a motorcycle mechanic in Bend before the trip. Koehn was working for St. Charles Bend as a medical interpreter.
“She’s fluent in Spanish, so she’s been able to use her knowledge in this horrible medical situation,” Shawn Leis said.
Britt Leis was in a hospital in Quito, Ecuador, on Monday afternoon, according to Shawn Leis. The family was trying to raise enough money to get him flown to a medical center in Los Angeles, where Britt’s sister is doing her medical residency.
On her blog, Sudamerica Adventure, on Monday, Koehn wrote: “His (Britt’s) condition started out as very serious and has gradually gotten even more so. He is in intensive care following three surgeries, and before the last one, last night, I was informed by the head surgeon that there is no certainty that he will survive.”
Shawn Leis said the couple left for their journey to South America around Labor Day. They had been planning the trip for a long time, she said, and sold most of their belongings before they left.
“They were definitely going in a peaceful way, to be with the people,” she said.
A fund has been set up in Britt Leis’ name at Bank of America for donations to help cover medical costs.
“He’s stabilized just enough that they believe there’s a window of time where it makes sense to get him out,” Shawn Leis said.