A pensioner was left close to death in a month-long coma after he contracted legionnaires disease during a package holiday to Benidorm. David Marshall, 79, said he might not recover from the severe form of pneumonia, which may have been caused by a faulty air conditioning unit.
The retired union official explained that he had jetted off to the Spanish seaside resort with his wife, Dorothy, and daughter in law for a “much-needed break”. But when he arrived, he was advised there was only a “skeleton staff” at his hotel due to low occupancy and found the fan in his room was noisy and dripped water.
David later experienced confusion, a productive cough, shortness of breath, kidney pains, diarrhoea and vomiting. And when he finally made it back to England, he was rushed to hospital in an ambulance, where he was put into a coma for a month.
David said he has been suffering long-term health issues since the holiday and has instructed a legal team to investigate how his illness had “changed his life”. He said: “This holiday was meant to be a much-needed break after what had been a difficult time during lockdown. However it turned into a nightmare.
“My family were scared that I wouldn’t survive. It saddens me that they were put through such an ordeal while I was in a coma.”
David set off for the the two-week getaway at the four-star Hotel Presidente in Benidorm on July 21, 2020, which was booked through Jet2 Holidays. But he became unwell during the second week of his trip, after noticing that the air conditioning unit in his room was noisy and dripped fluid.
Jennifer Hodgson, the specialist international serious injury lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, representing David, said air conditioning units are often responsible for the viral illness. She said: “Legionnaires’ Disease can lead to long-term illness and sadly can even prove fatal.
“Water systems and air conditioning units, that have lain dormant for several months, can be ideal breeding grounds for the bacteria, which causes the disease.”
When David returned to the UK, he was taken to the emergency unit of Blackburn hospital, where he was diagnosed with Legionella Pneumonia and placed in a coma for a month. He spent a total of six weeks in hospital and continues to suffer from breathlessness, while also losing over four stone in weight.
David said: “I was so unwell towards the end of the holiday, and I was desperate to get home before it was too late. I’m lucky to still be here, but I want to find out how this happened.
“I’ve never been the same since the illness. It’s changed my life. My memory isn’t what it was and I’m now easily out of breath. However, in a way I know I’m lucky, as things could have been much worse.
He added: “Right now, I’m taking one day at a time, but it’s devastating to think I might not make a full recovery and that my health might be permanently damaged. I think answers are the least that I deserve and more people need to be aware of the risks of Legionnaires’, and that it is still a very real danger.”
David has told his legal team that he believes that the hotel had re-opened just days before he arrived, after being closed for several months due to the Covid-19 pandemic. And Jennifer Hodgson agreed that David’s “terrible experience” should be investigated further.
She said: “David has undergone a terrible experience and unfortunately he is still living with various health issues following his illness.
“This includes suffering with memory loss and breathlessness. We have supported many people who have developed Legionnaires’ disease, both abroad and in the UK, and know only too well how dangerous the health implications of this disease can be.
“We’re now investigating how David contracted his illness, which includes looking into his stay at the Hotel Presidente and are determined to provide him with the answers and ongoing support that he needs. As part of our work and to assist with our investigations, we would be keen to hear from anyone else who may also have been affected by illness whilst staying at the Hotel Presidente, Benidorm.
“Following an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, it’s vital that the source is identified as soon as possible. If any members of the public start experiencing any symptoms, it’s crucial that they seek immediate medical advice.”
Jet2 Holidays have been contacted for comment by the SWNS news agency.
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