Grandmother left in intensive care with Legionnaires' disease days after returning from Turkish holiday

The family of an 80-year-old woman feared they might lose her as she was rushed into intensive care shortly after returning from a Turkish holiday.

Friday, 14th February 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 14th February 2020, 6:05 am
Shirley (right) with daughter Julie McDonald

Shirley Errington, of Washington, initially started to feel unwell on the flight home from her week-long stay at a hotel in the Turkish town of Belek with her daughter Julie and son-in-law Brian McDonald.

But in the following days the 80-year-old’s condition worsened and she was rushed to Sunderland Royal Hospital after her daughter found her in a semi-conscious state at home on October 16 last year – six days after she returned from her all-inclusive holiday, which was booked through Jet2.

Shirley was admitted to intensive care support and placed on a ventilator for several days.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Shirley Errington was rushed into intensive care.

Tests confirmed that the grandmother was suffering from Legionnaires’ disease – an uncommon, but serious, lung infection which can be caught by inhaling droplets of water containing the bacteria.

Public Health England informed Shirley’s family that it may have been linked to a shower in her hotel room.

Her daughter Julie McDonald said: “I remember Mum was complaining of chest pains and feeling unwell on the flight back to the UK and I could see myself that she was a little off-colour. However, nothing had prepared me for how she was going to be just a few days later.

“I went around to see her and she had collapsed at home. The paramedics with the ambulance even went so far as to say she may have been in that position for 12 hours.

Shirley Errington

“It was horrendous and it is difficult thinking back to her being in intensive care. I was just so worried that we might lose her.”

Shirley was discharged from hospital on November 4 but ongoing issues meant Shirley lived with Julie and Brian for more than two months and has only recently returned home.

Julie said: “Mum was previously very active and independent. She would drive, lived on her own and was often out and about. Initially after the illness, she was breathless, more forgetful and also disorientated and even now I can see a change in her since the holiday.

“It has just been awful seeing how the illness has her affected her and I never thought for a second that something like this would happen after a holiday.

“We simply want more answers regarding how this happened and what is being done to prevent it from occurring again. Lessons must be learned from this.”

Shirley and her family have now instructed law firm Irwin Mitchell to investigate the problems and help them gain answers regarding what they have been through.

Clare Pearson, the specialist lawyer at Irwin Mitchell who is representing Shirley, said: “This is an incredibly worrying case and it puts a spotlight on the devastating impact that Legionnaires’ disease can have.”

A spokesperson for Jet2 said: “As lawyers have been instructed, it would be inappropriate for us to make any comment at this stage.”