Gatineau woman stuck in a Greek hospital with rare auto-immune disorder

  It was supposed to be a trip of a lifetime, instead a Gatineau woman is lying in a Greek hospital bed wondering how or when she will get home.

“We just want good news so that we can start breathing again,” says the woman’s step-mother Carole Quenneville.

Melanie Bergeron McAndrew travelled to Greece on May 1st to attend a martial arts convention.

“Three days we walked Greece, we did a lot of dancing, we had fun, trained three days, five hours a day,” Bergeron McAndrew’s karate instructor Mike Leclair tells CTV News, “it was just normal for all of us to have sore legs, sore arms, sore shoulders but it kept getting worse and worse for Melanie.”

During a cruise through the Greek Islands, Bergeron McAndrew’s, was taken to a hospital on the island of Rhodes, her pain getting worse. 

“Everything was getting shut down slowly,” Leclair says, “I was carrying her around like she was a rag doll.”

On May 8th, Bergeron McAndrew’s 35th birthday, Greek doctors diagnosed her with Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), a rare and serious auto-immune disorder that attacks the nervous system.

“She was totally paralyzed and could not speak,” says Quenneville.

The mother of two was also alone.  Leclair says he and the 16 other teammates on the trip, were forced to leave Greece without her, “I wanted to stay, we all wanted to stay, but we were pushed out of the hospital, they said ‘you’re not immediate family’.”

Bergeron McAndrew’s was transferred by boat to a hospital in Greece’s capital of Athens.  Her friends and family back home in Gatineau, were terrified, and rallied quickly.  In just hours launching a Go Fund Me page in hopes of raising enough money to send her mother, Lucie Bergeron, to Athens to be by her daughters side.   Lucie arrived on Mother’s Day.

“It’s minute by minute, day by day, we’re just hoping for some good news,” says Quenneville.

Bergeron McAndrew’s family say doctors have told them she is still far too ill to fly home. They’ve contacted the Canadian Embassy in Athens and are working with insurance companies.

“We’re hoping it’s going to be the sooner the better but we don’t know when she’ll be home,” adds Quenneville, “her condition is not improving.”

The road to recovery is long with GBS, it can take months or even years.  Friends and family hope the public outpouring of support through the Go Fund Me page will continue, they don’t know what Bergeron McAndrew will face in the future, “every penny is very helpful,” says Quenneville, “Melanie will need assistance when she’s back here, she may need to adjust her house accordingly.”