Q&A with TV presenter Charlie Webster
The Fight At the Rio Olympics, Charlie experienced multiple organ failure and was put into a coma when she contracted Malaria on a bike ride.
When did you get malaria?
I cycled from London to Rio, Brazil, 3000 miles, for charity in 5 weeks and arrived in Rio to cover the Olympics Games. I cycled to the top of Christ Redeemer, our finish point and I just didn't feel right at all. The doctors believe I got Malaria on the cycle ride in Northern Brazil."
"I started just feeling really quite strange, my stomach hurt, I had diarrhoea and started to be sick. Despite this I made it to the opening ceremony as I was determined to do my job not realising at all how bad things were going to get. I ended up spending half the time on the floor of the stadium toilets, by this point I was bleeding from both my mouth and my bum. I went to the doctors and after a few issues (they basically sent me away to start with after giving me 2 drips saying I was dehydrated) they admitted me to hospital. I was so sacred and distressed, I was in horrendous pain, my body felt like it was imploding, there was a massive language barrier and I had no idea what was going on.
"The doctors didn't know what was wrong... I was dying."
On the 3rd day they told me in broken English that my kidneys had failed, my colon and pancreas had stopped working and I was dying, and that my family needed to fly over. They transferred me to another hospital where I was taken to intensive care put on a dialysis machine and given blood transfusions.
"My mum arrived within 24 hours.The consultant told her they had to put me an induced coma or I would be dead in 24 hours. I was put in a coma, my lungs had by this time collapsed, I had multiple organ failure was intubated and put on a life support machine."
When did doctors realise what was wrong with you?
"I had been in hospital 10 days and was deteriorating fast, at this point the doctors still couldn't figure out entirely what was going on. I was aggressively resuscitated and my family were told it was unlikely I would survive the night. On a last minute whim a doctor tested for Malaria, they and already tested me for everything under the sun. The result came back positive, I had malaria. The doctors immediately as a last resort started to treat me despite the fact I was in a coma I could hear my family and the doctors talking, I remember the doctor touch my hand and say 'we can treat you, it is malaria'."
When did you come home?
"I was flown home at the end of August on an air ambulance accompanied by medics and my mum, I was on a stretcher on the plane still hooked up to everything. Before I flew the doctors dialysed me and gave me 3 blood transfusions in order for me to be safe enough to fly. It took 20 hours and we stopped 5 times!
"We can actually end malaria in our generation."
"It was such a relief, we landed in Leeds and I burst out crying when I heard the paramedic, who pulled me out of the plane on a stretcher, say 'it's ok, you're home' in a thick Yorkshire accent. I was then looked after by the amazing NHS at St James' hospital."
Are you recovered?
"Both my UK and Brazil doctors have called my recovery a miracle. My outcome was either die or if I did survive I be severely brain damaged. It has been horrific, I thought I was going to die, I've had a lot of flashbacks and PTSD and my kidneys aren't fully recovered but I am so grateful every second of every day that I am here.
I am so lucky, sadly millions of people aren't so lucky. I am an ambassador for Malaria No More UK and hope that if by telling my story it can help save one life then it was all worth it. I am speaking over on Capitol Hill in Washington DC on World Malaria Day to government officials and members of congress and supporting the campaign Putting Malaria Out of Business. We can actually end malaria in our generation - something we can really be proud of."
Can you tell us more about the new campaign?
"Malaria is more than just a deadly disease picked up in certain far flung parts of the world and it's important that message gets across. It has an wider impact on both the developing and developed world - including our economies.
"Malaria costs UK business £765 million in lost trade opportunities."
"Putting Malaria Out of Business is the new campaign being launched by Malaria No More. It's a really innovative and very different film which goes live across social media channels today. We know that 70 per cent of British business leaders and 54 per cent of the UK public say they think it’s right that Britain leads the fight to end malaria in a generation, so we are calling on the government to maintain a focus on reaching this goal."