Tori Austin and Stephen Johnson said they were being held "hostage" after being barred from leaving the hospital when they couldn't pay their bill

By Jason Duaine Hahn Rachel DeSantis
November 26, 2019 07:55 PM
Kevin Winter/Getty

A couple who were prevented from leaving a Mexican hospital when they were forced to seek medical treatment while on vacation are now back home in the U.S. after Tyler Perry intervened.

“WE ARE BACK,” Tori Austin of Atlanta, Georgia, wrote on social media Tuesday, before adding, “Crazy things is… I gotta work tomorrows!”

It was earlier this month that Austin’s fiancé, Stephen Johnson, 31, went into diabetic shock while the couple were on a Carnival Dream cruise ship, PEOPLE reported on Sunday. Johnson was diagnosed with pancreatitis and diabetes and was taken to Progreso, Mexico, where he spent three days in intensive care, according to Good Morning America.

But the couple was surprised when they were handed a $14,000 medical bill that they couldn’t pay — they did not have health or travelers’ insurance — and when they tried to negotiate with the hospital, the facility barred them from leaving until they received compensation, they claimed.

Austin also alleged that hospital staffers locked the windows to further prevent them from leaving and employees threatened to call the police if they decided to make a break for it.

“It’s been a nightmare. We just want to come home,” she told WGCL at the time, as Johnson added, “[It’s] hell. I very much so am a hostage.”

After hearing about their struggles on GMA, Perry reached out and offered to help, according to KTRK-TV.

A source previously told PEOPLE that Perry, 50, paid the couple’s medical bill and would also cover their travel expenses as soon as they were cleared to leave.

“Today I am thankful for and will always be thankful for Tyler Perry,” Austin wrote on Facebook on Sunday. “My mom was also a huge fan of his.”

RELATED: Tyler Perry Helps American Couple Held ‘Hostage’ in Mexican Hospital by Paying $14K Medical Bill

In a statement, the U.S. State Department just told PEOPLE: “We can confirm that U.S. citizen, Stephen Johnson, departed Mexico on November 26. Due to privacy considerations, we have no further comment.”

Austin posted a picture of a Johnson in a hospital bed on Tuesday afternoon, and her relief over finally being stateside was clear.

“Finally in a US hospital,” she wrote in the caption of a picture of Johnson beaming with happiness.

Over the weekend, Austin also shared online that she wouldn’t rule out traveling to Mexico again in the future.

RELATED: Texas Church Uses Donations to Pay Off $2.6 Million of Medical Debt for Thousands of Families

“What is going on with Stephen has nothing to do with the entire country, it has to do with this particular hospital,” she wrote. “We were unaware that this particular hospital and administration staff have been known to take American passports and hold them for payment.”

“I love MEXICO and the Culture,” she added. “I’ll be back again but will leave on my own terms. We have no ill feelings for the country or the people, just this hospital.”

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