Belfast Telegraph

Presenter Charlie Webster struck down by malaria out of coma and talking to family

By Ryan Wilkinson

TV presenter Charlie Webster has been able to speak to her family after being brought out of her medically-induced coma yesterday, her manager has said.

The 33-year-old Team GB ambassador remains in intensive care in a hospital in Rio de Janeiro after contracting a rare strain of malaria during a 3,000-mile (4,828km) charity cycle ride to the Brazilian city.

She is being kept on dialysis as her kidneys are not responding to treatment and is being supported by a respirator, but doctors said they are “very happy with Charlie’s neurological results” after performing a number of cognitive tests.

Her mother said in a statement that she had been able to speak to her family.

She said: “Charlotte knows she nearly died. She mouthed to me earlier, ‘look at all the machines keeping me alive’.

“Charlotte is really strong but as the doctors keep reminding me, everyone heals differently. I am just so thankful that she’s able to communicate with us again.

“It’s been the worst imaginable time — we have been beside ourselves with worry but the fact Charlotte is now conscious is amazing.

“Knowing Charlotte, the thing she’ll be most annoyed about is that she’s missed the Olympics.”

The former Sky and ITV sports presenter has been unconscious since August 11 and was placed into a coma the next day after becoming unwell while watching the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games on August 5.

She was admitted to hospital, where doctors initially thought she was dehydrated, but her condition deteriorated after she developed a severe complication from a bacterial infection.

Her mother and brother flew out last week to Rio to be by her bedside.

A message posted on her Twitter page yesterday read: “Thank you very much for all your messages of support, it means so much. #TeamCharlie”.

Her management said that she managed to say to her mother, “I can’t believe you have been here all week”, and later, “Have you been to the beach?”

Her mother added that Webster will have been “especially gutted not to have seen Nicola Adams fight today. There’s a TV on the wall, so hopefully she can at least watch the women’s boxing final”.

A spokeswoman for the presenter said: “Charlie’s family and friends have been incredibly touched by the overwhelming support and love shown to Charlie today.

“Their main focus now is for Charlie to be stable enough to fly back to the UK.”

Webster, who once dated Downton Abbey actor Allen Leech, and Mike Tomlinson, set off on the first leg of the Ride To Rio challenge on June 27, cycling 1,300 miles (2,092km) from London to Lisbon.

They cycled 90 miles a day with only one rest day each week before arriving at the Maracana stadium on August 4.

The Ride To Rio campaign wished Webster a speedy recovery via Twitter, describing her as a “tough lady”.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are providing support to a British woman who is in hospital in Rio.”

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