A club director is set to sue a luxury relaxation and spa resort in St Lucia for negligence after claiming she was left with a broken jaw and scarring following a treatment.
Kim O’Brien, 38, had jetted to the BodyHoliday hotel to rest and recuperate but was allegedly left with devastating facial injuries.
The Operations Director for Manchester’s Warehouse Project arrived for her £6,734 eight-night stay on January 9 last year.
She had been suffering a cold so staff recommended the Prana breathe treatment but said things almost immediately went wrong.
Ms O’Brien said: ‘The therapist seated me on a low stool in front of a solid block bed and prepared a bowl of boiling water.
‘After pouring what I believed to be eucalyptus oil into the bowl from a white industrial-looking bottle, I was told to put my head over the bowl and a towel was placed over my head.
‘After just one breath I had to come back up for air; it was so strong.
‘I remember taking two or three more breaths and then coming around in the waiting room confused and in a lot of pain.’
Kim O’Brien, 38, says she fainted and smashed her face into a stool as she collapsed
It caused serious facial injuries and she has had to endure many surgeries to repair the damage
Ms O’Brien’s stay at BodyHoliday St Lucia cost her £6,734 for eight nights in January last year
Ms O’Brien claims she had passed out during the treatment and fell from the stool. The impact had caused serious facial injuries and she was rushed to hospital for emergency treatment and placed on a morphine drip.
Although staff claimed she had suffered a seizure, bloodwork and a CT scan suggested otherwise.
She explained, ‘The hotel stuck to their story that I suffered a seizure, but it just didn’t ring true – it’s something I’ve never suffered with before and the hospital found no signs of a neurological issue.
‘I have since found out that the treatment carries a high risk of fainting, yet no safety measures were put in place in case that happened.
‘I went into that room expecting to be looked after, but I came out with injuries that have changed my life.’
She was referred to a maxillofacial specialist in St Lucia, who advised that her jaw had been dislocated – she endured three excruciating attempts at manually manipulating it back into place, before her jaw was wired closed and she was discharged with painkilling injections.
Now she is preparing to sue the resort for negligence through her lawyers JMW Solicitors
Her lawyers say that BodyHoliday failed to put measures in place to protect Ms O’Brien
What is a Prana Breathe treatment?
BodyHoliday’s website describes the treatment as a combination therapy.
It starts with with a massage on key body pressure points, with the aim to drain mucus from the body.
It is then followed by steam inhalation using herbs and oils.
Ms O’Brien spent the remainder of the week alone before an agonising flight back home to Manchester, where doctors at Wythenshawe Hospital A&E told Kim that she had sustained what is known as a ‘Guardsman’ fracture with the severity of that seen in a car accident.
A five-hour surgery followed to repair the right side of her face, with Kim discharged with two bolts to her top jaw and two bolts to her second, holding the repair work in position.
Then a second surgery of five hours the following week attempted to repair the left side of her face and realigned her teeth and metalwork was inserted into her mouth to hold the jaw in place.
She then required a procedure to replace the bolts with braces to keep her jaw in position.
Ms O’Brien has been told to expect further surgery in the future to replace her joints with prosthetics.
She added: ‘I was absolutely devastated and in a massive amount of pain.
‘Initially I had less movement on the left side of my face which was frightening and I also became very anxious. I found it difficult to function and I struggled remembering things. Eventually my job was also affected, which was devastating. By Autumn 2020 I still couldn’t close my teeth, spoke with a lisp and didn’t have proper movement of my mouth, which made me feel self-conscious.
‘I never imagined that something like this could happen – there was no consultation at all before the treatment was carried out, and clearly no awareness of the risk it carries. It’s a devastating injury and it makes me angry and upset that it was completely preventable.
‘Almost two years and 2 surgeries later, I haven’t even had an apology – no acknowledgement, nothing. Fainting is common with this treatment, so what’s to say it won’t happen to someone else?’
Joanne Brine, Partner at JMW Solicitors, is representing Ms O’Brien. She said: ‘Despite fainting being a known side effect of this treatment, BodyHoliday failed to put measures in place to protect Kim or safeguard against her falling.
‘She sustained life-changing injuries that impacted her mentally, physically and financially – yet she has not received so much as an apology. The assertions that Kim suffered a seizure, despite medical evidence and expertise to the contrary, is also very worrying, particularly given the resort’s standing.’
BodyHoliday has not responded to MailOnline’s request for a comment.