Pensioner left close to death after contracting Legionnaires’ disease on Benidorm holiday

A pensioner was left close to death in a month-long coma after he contracted Legionnaires’ disease during a “nightmare” 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.

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