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Last Updated: Saturday, 16 August, 2003, 03:26 GMT 04:26 UK
Coma Briton 'left dying in France'
A widow is demanding to know why her husband lay dying in a French hospital for nine days without his family being informed, say reports.

Lucienne Lee says she was not told her 79-year-old husband Maurice had had a stroke while holidaying alone in the south of France three weeks ago.

She was unaware he was in a coma at a hospital in Montpelier even though Mr Lee had a wallet with his contact details inside.

Her husband of 28 years had collapsed with a stroke on the first day of his annual driving holiday.

We just want an answer to one question: why were we in the dark for nine days as Mat lay dying?
Lucienne Lee
Nine days later Mrs Lee became concerned when her husband failed to return home to Surrey, according to the Daily Telegraph and the Times.

She rang hotels where her husband had booked rooms but not checked in.

It was her local police station in Epsom, that discovered his whereabouts.

Mrs Lee, 55, her children Danielle, 27 and Jonathan, 23, were given a police escort to Gatwick Airport to catch the next flight to France.

The family had just four days with him before the retired engineer died without regaining consciousness.

Harrowing ordeal

The teacher told the Telegraph: "It was an appalling bureaucratic nightmare and a very harrowing experience.

"If you're going to have a stroke, don't do it in France."

She told both papers she had asked a female doctor why nine days had gone by before the family found out.

She said that the woman "just shrugged her shoulders and rolled her eyeballs at me."

"We just want an answer to one question: Why were we in the dark for nine days as Mat lay dying?"

Mrs Lee claims she was even not allowed to take the car keys from the hospital because they needed her husband's signature on a release document.

Alain Sauviat, director of the Guy Chauliac CHU Hospital in Montepelier, told the Times an internal inquiry would be launched into the incident on Monday.

He said the normal procedure was to contact the patient's next of kin where there was an emergency admission to the hospital where the patient is in a coma.

The family have also complained that they were only able to visit Mr Lee for an hour each day.

But Mr Sauviat said this was routine for intensive care to allow medical staff to carry out monitoring and tests.

The family are planning a memorial service for Mr Lee who was cremated in France.

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