Travellers are often told to visit their GPs before jetting off abroad, particularly when they’re departing for developing nations – and that’s exactly what Byron Bay local Shelley Hill did earlier this year just before travelling to Cambodia, where the Australian volunteered at a wildlife sanctuary to help treat unwell elephants.
Despite being totally healthy, the 46-year-old checked with her medical practitioner as to the vaccinations she might need for her time in the Mondulkiri jungle; her doctor told her that she wouldn’t need antimalarial medication as she was travelling to Cambodia during its dry season.
But she was given the wrong advice. At some point during the seven-day trip, a mosquito bit Ms Hill and she contracted a serious strain of malaria, which caused organ failure and forced her onto life support.
Although she’s off life support, she still needs daily dialysis and faces the possibility of multiple amputations.
According to News.com.au, friend Mel Wilson said Ms Hill fell ill soon after arriving back in Australia, where she was diagnosed with “the most severe strain of malaria” and rushed to an ICU in a northern NSW hospital.
“She is waiting to see a vascular surgeon in regards to amputation — maybe fingers, maybe hands, maybe also some toes from irreversible necrosis that she suffered from lack of blood circulation,” Ms Wilson told News.
“[I’m feeling] much better now that she is off life support and breathing on her own [but] still concerned about her mental health coming out the other side and what permanent damage she may have to her organs, and hands and feet.”
To help with massive medical costs, her close friends have formed a GoFundMe campaign, which has so far raised $33,000. But none of this would’ve been necessary had Ms Hill been given more sound advice.
“I have engaged a solicitor to assist in any possible legal action,” Ms Wilson said.
“She was infected with the most fatal form of malaria with a 50 per cent mortality rate.”