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Stroke victim suing Holland America for not airlifting her from cruise ship

The woman has been left with "permanent, devastating physical, cognitive and neurological deficits," due to delayed care, the suit alleges.

An Illinois woman is suing Holland America, claiming she suffered severe neurological damage because her cruise did not airlift her after she had a stroke.

Lila Graciela Kohn Gale now struggles to walk and talk and lives in a nursing home in Highland Park, Illinois, husband John Gale told NBC Chicago.

"They were careless, inefficient and heartless," John Gale said of the Holland America Line cruise.

A spokeswoman for the Seattle-based cruise line declined to discuss Gale's lawsuit. "Out of respect for the family involved, we decline the opportunity to comment," the spokeswoman said in a statement Friday.

Lila "Lisette" Gale and John Gale.
Lila "Lisette" Gale and John Gale.via NBC Chicago

The couple was on board Holland America's MS Zuiderdam, when it pushed off from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at about 4 p.m. on March 21, 2018, according to the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Seattle by Gale's son, acting on her behalf.

About 4 1/2 hours after departure, Gale was having dinner when she lost consciousness, the suit claims. "A medical team was dispatched and noted her to be confused, drowsy and with slurred speech," the suit says.

The on-board doctor gave her a provisional diagnosis of "severe stroke" or "query ruptured cerebral aneurysm," and noted that she needed a CT scan and to see a neurologist, according to the civil claim.

At the time Gale went to the on-board medical center, the ship was no more than 100 miles from Florida and she could have easily been airlifted back to shore for emergency care, the suit says.