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Utah father dies after medical episode in Ecuador

Family members of James Campbell, right, on Saturday, July 13, 2019, were raising money for him to be flown to the U.S. for medical treatment after he suffered an aortic dissection in Ecuador. Campbell died Sunday. GoFundMe

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah father of five whose family was trying to bring him home from Ecuador for a potentially life-saving surgery died Sunday, according to family members.

"We are so grateful for everyone's messages and donations and we were so ready to fly him back. But my dad passed away early this morning. Thank you to everyone who supported us and will continue to support us through this difficult time," the family posted on the GoFundMe campaign set up to raise funds to fly James Campbell back to Utah for a surgery that couldn't be done in Ecuador.

Campbell, of Wellington, Carbon County, who worked as a chief technology officer, was making contacts in South and Central America and getting ready to travel to the Philippines when his body started shutting down due to an aortic dissection, which occurs when there is a tear in the large blood vessel that branches off the heart.

The condition is often fatal, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Last weekend, Campbell's family members in the U.S. learned that Campbell wasn't expected to survive through the night, and hospital workers said they were making him comfortable.

"Fortunately, our daughter, we sent her down to be with him and take care of what needed to be done down there. She expected to go down and take care of getting him back here for a memorial," Randy Dieterle, Campbell's father-in-law, said Saturday. When Campbell's wife got there, he had started to improve, and doctors got him stabilized.

The family hoped to be able to return Campbell to the U.S. for the potentially life-saving surgery, and was raising funds to have him flown on a medical flight back to Utah for a procedure to fix the aortic dissection. His insurance wouldn't pay for a flight outside of the U.S., the family said.

As of Sunday, the campaign had raised more than $25,000.

But family members told the Deseret News Campbell's aorta failed early Sunday morning.

Now, Dieterle is planning to travel to Ecuador to help his daughter bring Campbell home. The family will use the money raised to help pay for that trip and to prepare his funeral.

Contributing: Alex Cabrero