A toddler was left fighting for his life after being struck down with E.Coli allegedly caught at a five-star TUI holiday hotel’s buffet.
Richard Holt and Lara Wilcocks’ son Cillian has been in hospital for 21 days following a family holiday at the Jaz Bluemarine Resort in Hurghada, Egypt.
The 20-month-old was the fifth family member to be struck down with sickness and diarrhoea during the £2,500 holiday, which the family believe was caught from the hotel buffet.
Cillian developed a rare kidney condition called haemolytic uraemic syndrome (STEC-HUS) as a result of the E.Coli after the holiday in June, and may now need a kidney transplant.
Richard Holt, 33, and Lara Wilcocks, 35, have been taking it in turns sitting at their 20-month-old son’s hospital
Richard Holt and Lara Wilcocks have been at their son’s bedside since returning from holiday
The family stayed at TUI’s Jaz Bluemarine Resort in Hurghada, Egypt (pictured)
The toddler suffered two seizures before undergoing a four-hour operation, three blood transfusions and two platelet transfusions.
A TUI UK spokesman said they are aware of advice from Public Health England and an investigation is ongoing, while they will be ‘putting relevant procedures in place’.
Cillian’s father Richard, from Knotty Ash in Merseyside, said: ‘It’s something you never think you’re going to have to go through, it’s heartbreaking.
‘You have this moment of realisation that we’ve not been watching him be sick, we’ve been watching him die – that’s an eye opener. It’s insane that all this stems from going away on holiday, your brain struggles to process it.’
Mr Holt booked the all-inclusive stay at the Jaz Bluemarine Resort last month for him, full-time mother Lara and children Lilly-Mae Foord, eight, five-year-old Olivia Holt and Cillian Holt.
Two hours after eating their evening meal on day three at the buffet restaurant, Mr Holt claims he was struck down with crippling stomach cramps and violent diarrhoea.
Mr Holt claims his son caught E-Coli after eating from the hotel’s adult buffet
Little Cillian remains in hospital and could need a kidney transplant
The toddler suffered two seizures before undergoing a four-hour operation, three blood transfusions and two platelet transfusions
Blaming a slushie he’d drunk earlier that day, he continued to eat food from the hotel – which he claims were served lukewarm.
He added: ‘A couple of hours later I started getting stomach cramps [again] and asked Lara to go to the pharmacy to get something for food poisoning as I knew it wasn’t sunstroke.
Cillian had eaten food form his parents’ plates on holiday before falling ill
‘She was given tablets to treat intestinal bacteria. Come lunchtime Lara and Lilly started suffering with cramps too and Cillian started having diarrhoea.’
Mr Holt spent three days in the hotel room suffering with severe cramping and diarrhoea while he, Lara and Lilly-Mae were unable to eat ‘anything other than jam on toast for 30 hours.’
Mr Holt said: ‘Cillian is so used to eating off our plate he just eats our food and we took some crisps and bars for him to snack on.
‘On Wednesday evening we ordered in McDonald’s because at this point I thought we were definitely getting food poisoning. After eating the McDonald’s we were all fine.’
After eating breakfast at the hotel the following morning, Lara was ill again and Mr Holt went to the TUI rep to complain.
He claims a ‘smirking’ hotel manager said their illness could have been caused by food eaten outside the hotel, heat stroke, sun stroke or the pool and said the food was not to blame.
The TUI rep assured Mr Holt someone would be put on the doors to ensure diners used hand sanitisers before eating meals, however the father-of-three claims these were empty.
Mr Holt said the family suffered with diarrhoea for the remainder of the holiday and ate out a few times in a bid to stop getting ‘reinfected’.
Mr Holt said the family suffered with diarrhoea for the remainder of the holiday and ate out. Pictured, Olivia, Laura and Lilly-Mae
He said: ‘We paid £2,500 for a holiday to have jam on toast for breakfast, lunch and dinner for three days.
‘We’d been calling Olivia iron guts all holiday because she hadn’t had [sickness] and had been eating at the kids self-serve buffet which was always a little bit hotter than the adult one.
‘But one day she didn’t want that, she wanted pizza instead. Just before we got picked up she had diarrhoea in the hotel toilet. At that point we knew it was definitely the pizza [that caused it].’
At the airport Cillian suffered such violent diarrhoea his clothes, and Lara’s dress, had to be binned.
After returning home Cillian was still suffering with vomiting and diarrhoea and on July 5, he became floppy and lifeless and the couple took him to hospital where he was rushed into theatre for a four-hour operation.
Mr Holt said: ‘When we brought him in his kidneys weren’t working at all and doctors said if we’d kept him at home for another couple of hours he’d be dead.
‘There’s still a possibility he’ll need the kidney transplant and we don’t know what the long term effects will be on his kidneys.’
Mr Holt added: ‘I think TUI are a disgrace. Cillian’s blood sample came back positive – proving that this has been caused by E Coli.
‘God forbid he could have got that earlier, we could have been left with staying in an Egyptian hospital. The outcome could have been our baby in a box.’
A TUI UK spokesman said: ‘We will be putting relevant procedures in place, and we will be in contact with customers should our advice on travel to the region change.
‘We would like to reassure customers that we carry out regular health and safety audits, including hygiene, at all of the hotels we feature.’
Dr Nick Phin, Deputy Director, National Infection Service, Public Health England, said: ‘We are aware of people returning from Egypt with E. coli infections, some with a serious kidney complication called haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS).
‘We are gathering information about those affected to better understand the cause.’