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British holidaymaker, 33, fights for life on ventilator in Greek hospital after falling ill with acute pancreatitis at his sister’s dream getaway wedding
- Peter O’Malley, 33, flew to Greece for NHS nurse sister Steph Burton’s wedding
- He started struggling to breathe and was rushed to Rhodes General Hospital
- His condition – which is not related to Covid-19 – got rapidly worse overnight
- Insurance won’t pay to fly him back as they fear alcohol could have caused it
- Family launched appeal to raise £28,000 for a private flight to bring him home
A British holidaymaker is fighting for his life on a ventilator in Greece after contracting acute pancreatitis at his sister’s dream destination wedding.
Peter O’Malley, 33, from Leeds, flew to sunny Rhodes to attend the wedding of his NHS nurse sister Steph Burton, 26 – after her June nuptials were cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis.
But, just two days after the ceremony, Mr O’Malley started struggling to breathe and was rushed to Rhodes General Hospital in agonizing pain.
His condition – which is not related to Covid-19 – got rapidly worse overnight. He was diagnosed with acute pancreatitis and placed on a ventilator.
Although doctors in Greece say he’s ‘just about well enough to fly back’, his insurance won’t cover the cost of an emergency flight.
They claim this is because his condition could be ’caused by the alcohol he had on the all inclusive’ but Mrs Burton fears they are using a ‘loophole to get out of paying’.
British holidaymaker Peter O’Malley, 33, is fighting for his life on a ventilator in Greece after contracting acute pancreatitis at his sister’s dream destination wedding. Left: Mr O’Malley with his sister Steph Burton, 26, at the wedding. Right: Mr O’Malley, Mrs Burton and their mother Tracie Seaward
The family have since launched a desperate appeal to raise £28,000 for a private flight to bring him home to the NHS themselves.
Mr O’Malley’s mother Tracie Seaward told MailOnline: ‘It’s so hard seeing him like this. He’s my baby and as a mum I feel powerless seeing my baby on a ventilator.
‘We were only able to see him for five minutes. When I saw him like that I was too upset to even speak.
‘All I could do was stroke his feet and will him to pull through. It’s awful seeing your baby in pain like that.’
Mr O’Malley has an older brother Martin, 36, who’s sons Lucas, nine, and Max, five, are adored by their uncle.
Ms Seaward continued: ‘Martin was saying “come on Peter, pull your finger out and get better”, but I knew I’d break down if I tried to say something.
Mr O’Malley has an older brother Martin, 36, who’s sons Lucas, nine, and Max, five, are adored by their uncle (pictured together)
‘I just sat there stroking him and crying. I’m not going to fly back without him, not unless I have no choice.
‘I was so proud to see one child get married the other day, and now I feel like my world is ending because another might die.’
Mr O’Malley has always been close to his sister Mrs Burton – a nurse at Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust who worked on the coronavirus frontline this year.
She has two-year-old son Blake whose middle name is ‘Peter’, after his uncle.
Ms Seaward added: ‘When Peter first got sick the other day, Steph was great at keeping him calm.
‘I was standing in the corridor listening to her help him breath.
Mr O’Malley, 33, from Leeds, flew to sunny Rhodes to attend the wedding of his NHS nurse sister Mrs Burton, 26 – after her June nuptials were cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis. Pictured: Jordon Burton (Mr O’Malley’s brother-in-law), Mr O’Malley’s nephew Blake, Mr O’Malley and Mrs Burton
‘I’m not a medical professional so I didn’t want to interfere, I was just standing there willing him to stay alive for the ambulance.
WHAT IS ACUTE PANCREATITIS?
Acute pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas – an organ behind the stomach which aides digestion – becomes inflamed in a short amount of time.
Sufferers usually see an improvement in symptoms in about a week – however things can get serious in some cases.
It can be caused by excessive alcohol drinking or gallstones – but the cause can remain unclear.
Symptoms include diarrhoea, nausea and sudden, intense pain in the middle of the abdomen.
‘Growing up, Pete always stuck up for Steph, he never let anyone pick on her – so it’s a bit of a role reversal now with her looking after him.
‘It’s an awful situation, but it makes me so proud to see how much she’s doing for him.’
Mrs Burton opted to stay in Greece to be with her brother instead of flying back with her new husband and son earlier this week.
She said: ‘He’s a joker, not got a serious bone in his body. He’s like a big kid. He’s amazing with Blake, he absolutely adores him. We gave Blake ‘Peter’ as a middle name and Peter was chuffed – he said he was honoured.
‘I was always the annoying little sister following him around when he was out with his mates, but he looked after me regardless.
‘I’ve worked through the pandemic so I know what ventilators are like, but when it’s your big brother it’s a different world. Seeing him like that was a punch in the gut.
‘I feel awful already, he’s over here because of my wedding and now he’s fighting for his life.
‘The June wedding was cancelled because of Covid so this was supposed to be a new start.
‘Everyone’s had a tough year and we were hoping for a nice time so we could move on.
‘I didn’t expect it to become a nightmare like this. If something happened to him while I was flying home I couldn’t forgive myself.
Mr O’Malley has always been close to his sister Mrs Burton (pictured as children) – a nurse at Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust who worked on the coronavirus frontline this year
‘My mum’s lost, she’s on the verge. She’s very upset and just wants to get him home.
‘The health system over here is really different and the language barrier is a challenge.
‘The doctors say he’s just about well enough to fly back, but the insurance company won’t pay for it.
‘They say he’s not covered because it might have been caused by the alcohol he had on the all inclusive.
‘But the Greek doctors don’t know what caused it. They said they can’t know for sure, but somehow the insurance company know what’s wrong. I feel like they’re using a loophole to get out of paying.’
To donate to the family’s appeal to bring Mr O’Malley home, click here.
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