Relief as gran is allowed home

Margaret and Brian Douglas in their Hartlepool home
Margaret and Brian Douglas in their Hartlepool home

A GRANDMOTHER who took ill on a sunshine break, leaving her husband with a £28,000 bill to get her back to the UK, is finally back in the comfort of her own home after spending the past four months in hospital.

But despite their money woes, Hartlepool couple Margaret and Brian Douglas are just glad to have each other, after Brian nearly lost his wife when she became ill abroad.

Medical notes seen by the Mail revealed she had suffered a massive heart attack abroad when Greek medics were unable to diagnose what was wrong with her.

Margaret, who spent her 75th birthday and Christmas in hospital said: “It’s been a struggle, but I’m just glad to be back.

“The nurses said they didn’t think I was going to make it.

“When the doctors told me two days before my release I was allowed home, it was the best news I’d had in a while.”

Brian appeared in the Mail last November after he was landed with a hefty bill to fly Margaret home after their insurers refused to pay out when they declared she had heart problems and “unforeseen breathlessness” on their insurance policy.

The 74-year-old was forced to take out a £21,000 bank loan and use £7,000 of his life savings to pay for medical bills, hotels and an emergency flight home while air strikes hit Greece and after insurers Barclays told him “claims relating to that condition would be excluded”, despite doctors giving the go-ahead to fly.

Margaret was rushed from hospital to hospital after taking ill on September 14 on Greek island of Zante, before being flown home in a private jet, touching down on British soil on October 18 and then rushed by a £180 private ambulance to James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough.

The mum-of-two is now recovering at the home she shares with her husband in the Naisberry Park area, and slowly learning to walk again, having had open-heart surgery then suffering complications including blood-poisoning and kidney failure.

She said she remembered initially feeling poorly and coming home on the flight, but added: “I hadn’t a clue what was going on, I was just being taken from hospital to hospital.

“I eventually hope to get back to a normal lifestyle.”

Despite Barclays standing firm on its decision, retired ship rigger Brian is still pursuing the case and has enlisted the help of the Travel Ombudsman, which he hopes to hear from shortly.

Meanwhile, the couple are paying back the debt at a rate of £386 a month.

Brian, dad to Beverley Maybee, 49, who lives in Canada, and Sharon Groom, 50, said: “I would warn other holiday-goers to make sure they get the E11 form and to check the small print on their insurance.”

But both agree they couldn’t put a price on Margaret’s life.

“I think I’m worth it,” she said.

The ordeal has not put them off flying and they hope to travel to Canada, if Margaret is well enough, for Beverley’s 50th birthday in December.

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