British woman left brain damaged after cosmetic surgery flown home from Turkey
A British woman, who was left fighting for her life in a Turkish hospital following cosmetic surgery, is now on her way back to the UK.
Michelle Williams, 46, may never fully recover from the operation and has now spent more than 12 weeks in intensive care at a private hospital abroad following a rhinoplasty procedure.
She is on a repatriation flight home and will be taken to hospital when she arrives on Thursday evening.
Her family are suing for medical negligence and have been locked in a battle with the hospital after it initially refused to allow Ms Williams to leave unless they paid a £20,000 medical bill.
Her sister, Nikisha Lynch, told the PA news agency: “She is still critical. We really don’t know how much damage has been done.
“We speak to her every day, we pray, we sing, we play music, but there’s no communication.
“The hospital didn’t want to let her leave unless we paid the bill, but we came to an understanding so she could.”
Ms Williams, a teacher originally from London, had been working in her “dream” job – teaching English in Turkey – when she opted to have elective surgery in August at the Academic Hospital in Istanbul.
However, shortly after the general anaesthetic was administered she suffered a cardiac arrest, followed by prolonged seizures for three hours, on and off.
When her family arrived in Turkey, they were told she had a brain injury.
An avid ice skater, who loves playing board games, Ms Williams had done extensive research before booking the £3,500 operation, her sister said.
Although she had health insurance, it did not cover elective cosmetic surgery.
The family’s lawyer Burcu Holmgren, of London Legal International, told PA: “At the moment the family have not had to pay, but the hospital still insists there is a bill to pay.
“She won’t have a normal life again, no matter how it turns out. It is awful, a teacher — a young, beautiful teacher and she just wanted rhinoplasty. It’s just supposed to be a very simple procedure.”
Mrs Holmgren said she is representing a number of patients whose procedures did not go as planned in Turkey and urged people to do their research or get their treatment in their home countries.
She said: “Michelle was living there so she picked her surgeon herself but a lot of people find doctors online regretfully. There are incredible surgeons in Turkey but if anything goes wrong you do want to be in your own country with your family.
“I am pleased we were able to get Michelle discharged from hospital without further financial burden to her family.”
Ms Lynch told PA that she had now taken at least eight flights between London and Istanbul, with the family operating in shifts to ensure someone was always by Ms Williams’ side.
She said: “It’s heart-breaking to see her in that condition.
“Every flight I have been on there is medical tourists on them. And you just want to say to them, don’t do whatever it is you are going to do.
“No matter how much research you do, the healthcare there, yes it may be cheaper but it’s not the same. They don’t have the same laws, it’s not regulated in the same way.”
The hospital has been contacted for comment.
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said it had offered advice on the situation and was in contact with Ms Williams’ family, her legal representatives and the Turkish health authorities.
The family have been raising money to pay for her medical care at: https://www.gofundme.com/f/uk-teacher-fighting-for-life-in-turkish-hospital