Buy This Issue
The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 20 May 2017
6 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 20 MAY 2017 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM British woman loses kidneys and eyesight due to dodgy cocktails in Zante UK citizen 21-year-old Hannah Powell ended up blind and lost function of her kidneys after unknowingly drinking vodka laced with methanol while partying in Zante, Greece. The young student and medical receptionist had eight vodka and orange cocktails along with her two friends on an organised travel agency bar crawl. Both her friends - Lauren Sheerin, 22, and Lauren Connors, 21 - became violently ill and were hospitalised for days but recovered without suffering permanent damage. The deadly chemical methanol, which was mixed into the vodka they were drinking, lead to a ravaged condition 36 hours later, leaving Ms Powell on dialysis and with permanent eyesight impairment. In an emotional interview with The Sun newspaper, Ms Powell, who is now registered as blind, warned other travellers "Don't end up like me. "I thought it was going to be the best holiday with my friends. I had no idea I'd drunk anything dodgy. But one day my friends woke me up and it was pitch black. I asked them to open the curtains but they said they were already open and the sun was streaming in," she told the UK newspaper. "I just fell to my knees. I was blind. It was devastating." Hannah and her two friends paid around £500 (A$870) each for a seven-night break booked with Thomson Travel in Laganas last August. The dodgy Thomson-run bar crawl that cost her her eyesight and overall health, came at around £35 (A$60). The offer included free drinks in four different bars on the fourth day and entry to a foam party at a club called Zeros. "We were really excited. We were chilling by the pool and the beach, it was a typical holiday," she said. "We're not massive drinkers but we had a few nights on The Strip. We stayed away from drinks that looked dodgy, like the 'fishbowls' of cocktails. We were being pretty sensible. "We were sticking to a drink called 'juicys' - it comes in halfpint glasses but it's just one shot of vodka with lots of orange. We were all drinking the same thing," she continues. “I even saw most of the drinks being poured out of bottles that said vodka. "We ended up at a foam party. I had around eight juicys over the night. "We finished at about 3.00 am but at no point did I feel sick, woozy, or even drunk before I went to sleep." It wasn't until the afternoon of the following day that Hannah started feeling sick and needed sleep; symptoms typical of methanol poisoning. "I'd never felt so tired. I went straight back to sleep. At about 4.00 pm they woke me up. "I said 'Why are we sitting in the dark? Put the lights on'. They said, 'What are you on about? The curtains are open'. I got out of bed to put the light on, because I thought they were joking. The room was pitch black to me. I had to feel my way around the bed and my friends said my eyes looked funny, the pupils were black and dilated. "I've got bright blue eyes but they couldn't see any blue. I was blind. I was freaking out, hysterical." She was taken to the local hospital by her friends and the following day, as her condition had not improved, she was transferred to Rio University Hospital in Patras. Her mum Christine, dad Derek, and her soldier boyfriend Carl Matthews, all flew to Greece and kept a vigil at Hannah's bedside, sleeping on sunbeds hired from the hospital. Two weeks later she was flown home. "My only thought was, 'Will I ever see again?'" Hannah said. "Mum didn't tell me until recently but one of the duty doctors said he thought I'd lost my sight for good. Mum burst into tears but didn't have the heart to tell me." On 20 March consultants confirmed that Hannah was irreversibly sight impaired. That was not the end of her ordeal however. Her kidneys had been so damaged from the methanol poisoning that she has to have a transplant to avoid spending the rest of her life hooked up to dialysis machines. Fortunately, her mother is a match for a kidney transplant. "My mum is my hero. Her transplant might be the lifeline I need for getting some kind of life back," Hannah said. Hannah agreed to make her story public in order to warn off other travellers and especially young people like herself, eager to take in the ‘European resort experience’. Greek police believe criminal gangs based in Albania and Bulgaria supplied the vodka laced with methanol - a highly toxic form of alcohol used to make antifreeze. As reported by The Sun on Sunday, Thomson Travel has been contacted about the bar crawl but has declined to comment. IMF and Eurozone finance threaten to walk out on Greece over debt relief Greek bonds won’t be returning to the markets anytime soon Things are not looking up for Greece as both the IMF and eurozone finance heads warn the country could be left cash-strapped once again. The two sides have not yet reached a debt relief agreement; this would be the third package for Greece since 2010. "There are still significant gaps on the issue of debt relief," an official told Reuters. "The [deputies group] was never likely to close this gap. It will have to happen at a higher level." Meanwhile, Germany insists the European Commission's approach to Athens is rather lenient, asking the IMF to apply pressure on Greece and demanding a strict upfront commitment. "The IMF wants maximum [debt relief] commitment upfront, while others would prefer to be more precise only in 2018." The Greek government states that it has met its obligations, having made necessary cuts. At the same time there might be a symbolic bond issue for Greece in July, signalling an "exit course from the crisis and the bailout" however, the European Central Bank is not yet convinced. Doctors in Samos refuse to perform pregnancy terminations The majority of anaesthetists employed by General Hospital of Samos Agios Panteleimonas announced their decision to abstain from pregnancy termination procedures. In a joint statement, they notified the hospital's management that they refused to participate and administer anaesthesia for abortions, unless there is an underlying medical condition affecting the child or where the abortion is immediately necessary to prevent grave injury to the physical health of the pregnant woman. The anaesthetists are referring to paragraph 31 of Code of Ethics of Medicine (Law 3418/2005) stating that "the doctor can abstain from taking part in the procedure of terminating a pregnancy, if it is against their personal code of ethics, unless there is unavoidable risk for the pregnant woman's life or danger of long-term damage to her health". The medical team refuses to participate in "child destruction practices" even though abortions were being carried out without any issues at the hospital, always after a signed testimony of consent from the pregnant woman, or her parents in the case of underage pregnancy. According to an ERT report, Agios Panteleimonas’ managing board does not have the authority to force its obstetricians, midwifes, and anaesthetists to take part in an abortion. As a result, women on the island who decide to end a pregnancy now need to travel to Athens. Montreal recognises the Greek Pontic genocide The City of Montreal has become the latest in a growing number cities around the world to recognise the Greek Pontic genocide. The city's municipal council unanimously voted in favour of the motion, designating 15 May as Remembrance Day. The council's decision was met with applause by members of the Greek community, as it comes as a result of a long-term campaign for recognition of the three genocides (the Pontic, the Armenian, and the Assyrian) perpe- trated by the Ottoman Empire and its successor, the Kemalist regime in Turkey. Commenting on the decision, Dr Theodore Halatsis, President of the Canadian Hellenic Congress, stated it is "historic", in terms of what it means for the Hellenic community. "It serves as a reminder to all of us here in Quebec, and in Canada, and to the generations to come, of this brutal and heinous crime against our Greek ancestors and humanity", he added.
13 May 2017
27 May 2017