A grandmother died during a celebratory family holiday to Ibiza after contracting suspected Legionella infection.
Lynne Balaam and her sister Kathleen Laddell, 52, from Cardiff, fell ill with a stomach bug just days into the 10-day trip with Thomson holidays to the Santa Eulalia resort.
Mum-of-four Lynne died in hospital on the holiday island four weeks later on October 18. Kathleen, who spent a week in hospital, has now recovered and is back home in the house they shared in Ely.
“Our world has fallen apart,” said Kathleen.
“It was a holiday to celebrate Lynne’s 59th birthday. The family is in shock.”
The C’an Sanso apartments where they were staying were shut days after Lynne tested positive for Legionella and remain closed, according to the family.
Grieving relatives have criticised Thomson and claimed the holiday operator didn’t do enough when the sisters fell ill at the apartments.
A spokesman for the company said staff had been supporting the family and added that “no clear link has been made between the apartments and the heightened risk of water contamination”.
The family claim Lynne and Kathleen, who arrived on September 22 with Lynne’s grandson Michael Badham, 17, and Kathleen’s partner Leigh Charalambos, reported other holidaymakers at the resort suffering stomach problems.
The sisters fell ill within three days of their arrival with Kathleen taken to hospital first and then Lynne.
Kathleen spent a week in a private hospital, where she was diagnosed with pneumonia, while Lynne spent weeks in the town’s hospital.
Blood tests undertaken there showed she had been infected with the Legionella bacterium, daughter Emma Takata and stepdaughter Sacha Protheroe said,
Family members, who flew straight to Ibiza from Cardiff when doctors diagnosed Legionella, said medics told them Lynne may have caught the bug from the apartment water systems.
They were shocked to arrive on the island to be told Lynne, who they had waved off as a healthy holidaymaker, had days to live.
Sacha claimed Lynne’s grandson Michael was left alone to rush her to hospital in a taxi, with no help from Thomson reps, as Kathleen had already been admitted to a private hospital an hour’s drive away.
Michael was alone in the apartments when Lynne’s condition suddenly worsened said Sacha, who lives in Rhoose.
She said he had rushed Lynne to the nearest hospital in a taxi and is inconsolable.
Relatives flew to Lynne’s bedside on October 5 and were horrified when doctors told them blood tests had confirmed Lynne had been infected with Legionella.
Her daughter Emma, 29, was so shocked by her mother’s condition she had a seizure by her bedside.
“I was told on October 1 my mother was ill,” she said. “By October 3 she was in hospital in intensive care. I flew out on October 5 and went straight to see her. She was on a respirator, not conscious and wired up.
“I have epilepsy, which I suffer because of a brain tumour, and the shock of seeing her like that caused me to have a seizure.”
Emma and her sister Clair Pucky-Brown, 35, are still on the island trying to fly her body home.
They have now been issued with a temporary Spanish death certificate which says Lynne died from multiple organ failure.
They say doctors told them Lynne had Legionella. Kathleen was also tested for the bug but tested negative.
The family believes multiple organ failure could have been caused by Legionella.
Within days of Lynne’s diagnosis the C’an Sanso Apartments where they were staying were closed and the block is reportedly still taped up.
Sacha, 34, whose father Joseph Protheroe flew to the island straight away when Lynne was hospitalised, said the apartments are still shut.
“My father went there and says they are all taped up,” she said.
Kathleen, 52, broke down in tears when she recalled how the holiday turned to tragedy.
“We arrived on September 22 and within two days we woke up with diarrhoea. A lot of people at the apartments had tummy problems,” she said.
“My partner Leigh took me to a private hospital through our insurance the following Wednesday because I was having breathing problems. I was in hospital for eight days and while I was there Lynne was taken to another hospital by Michael.”
Unaware of how ill her older sister was Kathleen was stunned when she was discharged from hospital and went straight to see her.
“The first time I saw my sister was on October 8 when I was discharged. I was absolutely devastated to see her. I heard she had gone to hospital but was completely shocked to see her so ill.”
Kathleen, who shared a house in Ely with Lynne for the last two years and was very close to her sister, said doctors diagnosed pneumonia in her case and tests had showed she was not infected with Legionella.
“I still don’t feel right,” she said.
The family has been liaising with the British Consulate on the island.
A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesman said: “We can confirm the death of a British national in Ibiza. We are providing consular assistance to the family at this sad time.”
A spokesman for Thomson said: “We are aware that a guest who stayed at the C’an Sanso Apartments in Ibiza has sadly died. Our thoughts and condolences are with the family at this extremely difficult time.
“Together with the British Consulate our team in resort has been supporting the family and will continue to do so until they are ready to return home.
“Whilst no clear link has been made between the apartments and the heightened risk of water contamination, as a precaution Thomson arranged alternative accommodation for all guests who were either staying in or due to travel to the hotel.”
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