OAKLAND -- While on a trip with her San Francisco choir group in Northern Italy, Maya Payne-Schomaker learned four phrases in Italian: "Stop," "It hurts," "Can I please have ice?" and "Don't touch my bear."

The phrases, which might not help navigate around the European country, helped Maya, who spent more than three weeks in a hospital in Mantua, Italy, after falling 20 feet from a hotel window.

Maya, a Bishop O'Dowd High School student who recently turned 15, arrived with her choir group -- the Young Women's Chorus of San Francisco -- on June 26 and was preparing for the five concerts the group would perform throughout the country.

Linda Schomaker visits with daughter Maya Payne-Schomaker, 15, of Oakland, who was seriously injured in a fall in Italy, as she recovers at
Linda Schomaker visits with daughter Maya Payne-Schomaker, 15, of Oakland, who was seriously injured in a fall in Italy, as she recovers at Children's Hospital in Oakland, Calif. on Tuesday, July 23, 2013. Maya was touring with her chorus group when she fell from a hotel window. (Kristopher Skinner/Bay Area News Group) ( Kristopher Skinner )

However, on her first night when she stepped outside her window, thinking there was a balcony, she fell through a skylight onto the concrete courtyard below. When the choral director called Maya's mother, Linda Schomaker, she informed her that Maya had broken her pelvis in four places, had internal bleeding, fluid in her chest and glass in her knee.

Language issues

In the small hospital in Mantua, the nurses did not speak English. Maya and her mother, who arrived two days after the fall, had to rely on Google Translate to communicate.

"What was really great is that my best friend was with me the whole time and all of the chaperones and the group were really great," Maya said. "They made sure I was OK."


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After more than three weeks in the Italian hospital, Maya flew home and moved to the Children's Hospital and Research Center in Oakland on July 19, where she is still recovering.

Schomaker said as soon as they arrived in Oakland, after a 21-hour journey, they were immediately taken to a hospital room, where all of her daughter's registration paperwork had been prepared in advance.

Maya Payne-Schomaker, 15, of Oakland, who was seriously injured in a fall in Italy, maintains a positive attitude as she recovers at Children’s
Maya Payne-Schomaker, 15, of Oakland, who was seriously injured in a fall in Italy, maintains a positive attitude as she recovers at Children's Hospital in Oakland, Calif. on Tuesday, July 23, 2013. Maya was touring with her chorus group when she fell from a hotel window. (Kristopher Skinner/Bay Area News Group) ( Kristopher Skinner )

"I needed to hear an American voice, I needed to hear somebody tell me, 'We've got it,'" Schomaker said, "Because I'd been trying to manage her medical care in a foreign country and in a foreign language."

Insurance bills

Although Maya is now safe at home, the family's worries are far from over, as their health insurance won't pay for medical care outside of the United States, or for the medical air flight home. The flight alone cost the family $48,000.

The family might even have to sell their home in Montclair, where they have lived since 2009, to cover the bills.

"Maya and I had a tough discussion in Italy about the fact that I think I might have to put my house on the market," Schomaker said. "Maya wants to come home to her own bedroom ... we'll have to figure it out."

Despite their money worries, Schomaker said she is grateful for all of those who have given what they can to help through Give Forward, a fundraising site specifically for medical bills. Through the site, the family has raised almost $15,000 to put toward the expenses.

"I am unbelievably grateful for the emotional, financial and spiritual support of friends, family and strangers," Schomaker said, with tears in her eyes. "I'm one of these people who does everything myself ... I realized I couldn't do it alone."

So far, in Oakland, Maya has already sat up on the side of her bed, after laying flat for three weeks in Italy, and been placed in a wheelchair. The family was told the estimated recovery time is four months, Schomaker said.

Maya Payne-Schomaker, 15, of Oakland, talks about making friendship bracelets in her hospital room in Italy after being seriously injured in a fall as she
Maya Payne-Schomaker, 15, of Oakland, talks about making friendship bracelets in her hospital room in Italy after being seriously injured in a fall as she recovers at Children's Hospital in Oakland, Calif. on Tuesday, July 23, 2013. Maya was touring with her chorus group when she fell from a hotel window. (Kristopher Skinner/Bay Area News Group) ( Kristopher Skinner )

'A lot of support'

Although Maya was stuck in a hospital bed while in Italy, she said her friends visited her frequently, had Skype sessions with her and they even took her stuffed animal, "Art," all around the country and created a Facebook page to document it. Additionally, every concert the girls had, they would dedicate the song "Sing Me to Heaven" to Maya.

"It was amazing," Maya said. "It was like I was there with them. I had a lot of support from the girls."

To pass the time in the hospital, Maya made friendship bracelets for all of the nurses who helped her and for her friends who visited her in the hospital. When Maya talks about missing the concert performances, she is disappointed but she said she felt better because of all the support she received.

Megan Pendleton, 17, has been best friends with Maya since the beginning of the last school year. She said her friend is bubbly, energetic and always tries to make others smile.

"She's always been really resilient and she's always been the one to make me laugh," Pendleton said. "Maya has always been that bubble of sunshine, but she has been remarkably nice to everyone through this."

Moving forward, Maya plans to stay involved with her choir group and she added that the experience has taught her to appreciate her loved ones even more.

"I learned that everybody really does care," Maya said, "and I've learned to be really thankful for what everybody gives and how supportive people have been."

HOW TO HELP
Donate to the Give Forward account for Maya Payne-Schomaker at http://bit.ly/15e2mxm