EAST LONGMEADOW, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Over the last 13 months, 8 people from the United States have died in the Dominican Republic.

Most of them following some type of illness contracted while on vacation.

One local woman said she nearly met the same fate two years ago while staying in Punta Cana.

Gina Sattler said all the reports of Americans dying abroad in the Dominican Republic bring back painful memories.

"We had dinner. The next morning, I became very ill with intestinal problems," Sattler said.

One night into a week-long vacation in the Dominican Republic and Sattler was rushed to a hospital with what she said was a parasitic illness.

"It was in a salad, they said," Sattler explained.

She said the hospital's care only made the illness worse.

"They never cleaned anything beforehand. When they tried to draw blood from me, they would cut me with a straight knife," Sattler said.

She said armed guards, a language barrier and limited visiting hours made it difficult for her husband to make sure she was getting basic hydration.

"I had to go outside the hospital because the hospital didn't even have electrolytes or Gatorade," Myles Sattler, Gina’s husband, explained.

Things took a turn for the worse.

"All my organs shut down they were only working at about 10 to 15%. I was pretty sure I was going to die. They told me I was going to die," Sattler said.

Sattler had to call her three children, and tell them she likely wouldn’t be coming home.

“That was probably the hardest part of it,” Sattler said. “I just told them each I love them and that I was sorry that I wasn't going to get home."

The Sattlers said they purchased travel insurance for this very reason, but it was difficult to get American paramedics for an airlift back to the states.

"It took my husband an entire week to convince them that I needed to get picked up because the Dominican hospital would tell them that I was fine," Sattler explained.

Gina eventually was brought back to Florida via an AMR flight in the nick of time.

“I’m still recovering intestinally from it,” Sattler said. “I still have problems from it, but emotionally, it's very hard to even think of.”

Copyright 2019 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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