A two-year-old girl died just days after a holiday at a “disgusting” four-star hotel where faeces were reportedly seen floating in a swimming pool.
Little Allie Birchall was struck down by E. coli poisoning and developed complications after staying at the Crystal Sunset Luxury Resort and Spa in Turkey.
Her family had to make the heartbreaking decision to switch off her life support after she was flown back to the UK and rushed to hospital.
Allie died on August 3 — just three weeks before her third birthday — and less than two weeks after returning home from their holiday at the resort.
Her mum, Katie Dawson, told The Sun all members of the family suffered from gastric symptoms, including stomach cramps and diarrhoea, after flying out for their 10-day stay on July 12.
Ms Dawson said they had serious concerns over their stay at the resort near Antalya that they booked through British holiday operator Jet2.
“Food was sometimes left uncovered and occasionally served lukewarm, and there were birds occasionally flying around the food,” she said.
“We saw faeces in the swimming pool, and I spoke to other holiday-makers who saw the faeces in the pool on more than one occasion, and staff just scooped it out without closing the pool or giving it a thorough clean.
“The walls in the children’s toilets were also smeared with faeces. It was disgusting.”
But Allie did not start getting ill until five days after getting back to their home in Manchester when she began suffering with stomach cramps, diarrhoea, loss of appetite and lethargy.
Allie was seen by an out-of-hours GP, but as she got worse she was admitted to hospital on July 30 where various tests were carried out.
It was confirmed Allie had contracted Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), which later led to her developing deadly Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome (HUS) — a life-threatening complication related to the poisoning.
HUS is a serious and potentially fatal condition that affects the blood and blood vessels, resulting in the destruction of blood platelets. It can also cause kidney failure and brain damage.
Allie was moved to the Manchester Royal Infirmary and put in an induced coma on August 1.
Ms Dawson had to make the difficult decision to terminate Allie’s life support after an MRI scan revealed that she had sustained severe brain trauma and damage.
“I keep thinking that if I had known about the condition, then I would have probably taken Allie to hospital sooner and it wouldn’t have ended the way it did,” Ms Dawson said.
“Allie was such a beautiful, happy girl, and we are all utterly heartbroken. We still can’t believe she is gone.
“She was always giving kisses and cuddles at home and always wanted to be sat on someone’s knee or to be picked up and carried around.
“There is now a massive hole in our home and our hearts. We all miss her dearly. She should not have died. She had so much to give.
“While nothing will bring her back, we need to know what caused her illness and if anything could have been done to prevent it.”
The family have now instructed specialist international serious injury lawyers, Irwin Mitchell, to investigate what happened.
Public Health England is also investigating the matter, and an inquest has been opened to examine the circumstances surrounding Allie’s death.
“This is every parent’s worst nightmare and we are supporting Katie and her family through this difficult time and are now investigating how Allie contracted her illness,” said Jatinder Paul, a senior associate solicitor and specialist international serious injury lawyer at Irwin Mitchell.
“As part of our investigations, we are looking into the family’s stay at the Crystal Sunset Luxury Resort and Spa and if any issues are identified, we hope that measures will be taken to ensure this does not happen again.”
A Jet2 spokesperson told The Sun Online: “We are very sorry to hear about these tragic circumstances, and we would like to offer our heartfelt condolences to Ms Dawson and her family at this very difficult time.
“As lawyers have been instructed, it would be inappropriate for us to make any further comment.”
WHAT IS STEC HUS?
STEC HUS usually occurs after ingesting a strain of bacteria such as E. coli.
The first symptoms can emerge anywhere from one to 10 days after eating contaminated food, though usually after three to four days.
These symptoms can include bloody diarrhoea, stomach cramps, mild fever and vomiting.
Children have more GB3 receptors than adults and can therefore be more susceptive to HUS.
The most common form of ingestion is undercooked meat, unpasteurised fruits and juices, contaminated produce and contact with unchlorinated water.
Treatment can include dialysis, steroids and blood transfusions.
The disease is rare, with 2.1 cases per 100,000 estimated in the US, mostly affecting children between six months and four years.
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission