British woman repatriated after months in intensive care in Turkey

A British woman from London who has spent nearly three months fighting for her life in a Turkish hospital after an operation went wrong is finally being flown back home, her family have said.

Michelle Williams, 46, was placed in intensive care after suffering a cardiac arrest during surgery on 14 August. Her relatives had been desperate to repatriate her so they could oversee her care.

On Thursday, her sister, 37-year-old Nikisha Lynch, said it was a massive relief to the family that Williams was being brought back to the UK by air ambulance.

Her three siblings and her mother had been taking it in turns to fly out and sit at her bedside at a private hospital in Istanbul. “We always made sure there was one of us there. Michelle is one of four, so my sisters and my mum took it in turns to rotate and be there,” Lynch said on Thursday.

She described her sister as a loving daughter and mother with a “zest for life”. Lynch said her sister was a “wordsmith with a passion for the game of Scrabble”, adding that she “enjoys beating anyone that will play Monopoly with her”. Besides those interests, she said Williams was a keen ice skater.

After the long process of trying to get her sister home, Lynch said Williams was discharged on Thursday morning and has been admitted into an intensive care unit in London. She chose not to name the facility in order to respect her sister’s privacy.

Williams’s daughter and her three sisters raced out on the first flight they could get to Istanbul upon hearing about the complications in the procedure. They were told Williams had suffered the cardiac arrest shortly after a general anaesthetic was administered ahead of rhinoplasty surgery at a private facility. She also suffered a prolonged seizure.

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They have been trying to fund her repatriation and managed to afford it thanks to the partial success of a campaign on the fundraising website GoFundMe and some money put up by relatives. Nevertheless, Lynch said, they were still facing a bill of tens of thousands of pounds for her care while in Istanbul, as well as more for her continuing care in the UK.

“We’ve still got the hospital bill in Turkey to settle. That’s tens of thousands of pounds at the moment. We’ve got other costs that we’ve incurred via the lawyer. And rehabilitation. God willing, she makes it out of there, she’s going to need a lot of therapy. And we know how overstretched everything is in the UK.”

Williams moved to Turkey to work as a teacher two years ago on a short-term contract after securing what her family have described as her “dream job”. After a spell back in England, she decided to make Turkey her permanent home and returned there to teach in 2019.

The family have said they have received conflicting reports about what happened to Williams and are pursuing legal action to get answers.

The family’s lawyer, Burcu Holmgren, of London Legal International, told the PA news agency: “I am pleased we were able to get Michelle discharged from hospital without further financial burden to her family.”

Holmgren said she was 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.

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A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “Our staff supported a British woman who has recently been discharged from hospital in Turkey. We offered advice, and were in contact with her family, her legal representatives and the Turkish health authorities.”


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