Swine flu teenager's second brush with death
Josie Hinton A HIGHGATE teenager who fought swine flu while on holiday in Greece left hours before wildfires swept across Athens, it has been revealed. Natasha Newman was thrust to the forefront of national news last month when she was struck down with th
A HIGHGATE teenager who fought swine flu while on holiday in Greece left hours before wildfires swept across Athens, it has been revealed.
Natasha Newman was thrust to the forefront of national news last month when she was struck down with the killer bug
swine flu while she was on the Greek island of Kefalonia with her family.
Now the High&High can reveal details of the 16-year-old's second dramatic escape just hours before disaster struck at the hospital where she was being treated for the virus.
The schoolgirl, known as Sasha, left Penteli Children's Hospital on August 22 - the day the hospital was evacuated as fires ravaged the city. She is now making a full recovery and has returned as a boarder to Gordonstoun School in Scotland.
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Speaking from her Holly Lodge home, Natasha's mother Nikki Newman said: "We are all still reeling from the shock and speed of recovery which has been truly remarkable.
"Sasha is understandably still weak and gets very tired but she is well on the way to a full recovery anticipated to be in as short a time as a month."
Sasha was flown to the children's hospital in Penteli, a suburb of Athens, after rapidly developing a high temperature and breathing difficulties at the end of July.
After remaining there for more than four weeks, she was airlifted home just hours before gusting winds spread the blaze to the northern suburbs of Athens, where it swallowed forest land and homes.
Ms Newman said: "Tragically, the Saturday Sasha was airlifted home, the fires broke out around Athens and the beautiful Penteli Children's Hospital which treated her was evacuated.
"The hospital itself suffered damage and the whole of the surrounding area was devastated with many homes totally destroyed and their families now homeless. The area was surrounded by beautiful forests which are now nothing but ash from the mountain to the coastline, leaving the remaining residents in fear of the winter floods to which they are now vulnerable."
Ms Newman said she was "eternally grateful" for the care and kindness shown to the family by hospital staff and locals.
"Her family cannot thank everyone enough for the millions of messages and prayers and we feel truly blessed to have received such great care in Greece and had so much local support," she said.
The tragic fires burned 51,890 acres of pine forest, olive grove, brush and farmland. It took firefighters four days to contain the blaze, which destroyed up to 60 homes, with a further 150 seriously damaged.
Meanwhile, the community of Highgate is rejoicing in Sasha's safe return.
Family friend Chris Underhill, who runs Prickett and Ellis Underhill estate agents in Highgate High Street, said: "It's always sad to hear of a young lady falling so gravely ill but we are amazed that she's made such a fantastic and speedy recovery.
"All credit to the Greek medical system which looked after her."
The death toll in Britain from swine flu now stands at 70. There are currently 159 patients in hospital, 31 of those are in a critical condition in intensive care.
But scientific advisers for the government say the high number of deaths predicted from swine flu will not be realised.
They have revised the original predictions of 65,000 deaths to 19,000.