THE family of an East Lancashire woman in hospital in Portugal have launched a campaign to raise the £12,000 needed to bring her back home.
Great-grandmother-of-nine Doreen Blackburn, 78, needs a special air amb- ulance to bring her back to Britain after suffering three strokes.
The retired nurse and pub landlady, from Burnley, will require 24-hour treatment when she is released from a Red Cross rehabilitation centre next month.
Mrs Blackburn, who beat lung cancer six years ago, cannot walk, or feel down her left side, following a double stroke in November.
She moved to Sao Joao, in Albufeira, 15 years ago to retire with her husband of 58 years, Maurice, 78.
Her daughter, Sharon Borr- owdale, 53, said the family want her home ‘so we can all look after her’.
She said: “We need her home.
“We have a large family and we can all support her.
“We need her here to make her comfortable.
“We are trying our best to get her back, but time is running out.
“It’s still a risk putting mum on the air ambulance, but it’s one we’re aware of, and willing to take.”
Doctors at the Red Cross rehabilitation centre, in Tavira, warned Mrs Black-burn’s family that she fac-ed ‘serious risks’ if she tried to travel back to Britain on a normal flight.
Therefore, a specially-equip- ped air ambulance, which flies at low altitude, is req-uired, but the family said they were ‘struggling’ to meet the £12,000 fee.
Mrs Blackburn’s family said she could not afford trav- el insurance after the cost shot up following her cancer diagnosis.
Her daughter-in-law, Pam- ela Blackburn, said: “We’re stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea.
“It could cost us two or three times the £12,000 need- ed for the air ambulance to keep her in care over there.
“Maurice is getting ready to come back to a care home in Colne because he can only see Doreen twice a week and it’s taking its toll on him.”
Mrs Blackburn, who also has 10 grandchildren, work- ed as a nurse in the old Burnley Victoria Hospital, various care homes in Bur-nley and Pendle, and for Rolls Royce, in Barnold-swick.
She and Mr Blackburn, who worked as a driver for upholstery firm G Plan, ran the Moorgate Arms, and King’s Head pubs, in Blackburn, in the mid-1990s.
The couple lived in Moor-view Close, Harle Syke, bef-ore moving abroad in 1998.
Pamela, 44, said: “They moved there with nothing and rented a little apart-ment, and lived off the pen-sion that they worked for over here.
“When we bring them back home we are leaving every-thing they have behind, except important personal posessions.”
The family have appr-oached Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson, and Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle, to ask for help.
Pamela, of Sycamore Rise, Foulridge, said she planned to set up a support group for other families struggl-ing to repatriate loved ones who had moved abroad.
She said: “The sad thing is there are thousands of people who go abroad, have an accident, and the insur-ance companies won’t pay out.
“This isn’t an isolated case.
“I’ve looked online and loads of people have this problem.
“There are no governm-ent guidelines, no help for families at all. You have to stumble across information.”
Mr Stephenson said: “I have raised this case with ministers to see if anything can be done, and hope that a solution can be found.”
The family are in the process of organising a series of fundraisers to help bring Mrs Blackburn home.
To contact them, call 01282 861503, or 01282 866748.