A disabled woman went on a healing pilgrimage to Lourdes – and returned with broken legs.
The family of cerebral palsy sufferer Patricia Mitchell have launched legal action against the organisers of the trip after she fell 4ft from a hoist.
Mrs Mitchell, who was wheelchair-bound, broke her left leg in three places and her right leg once.
Her family say she never fully recovered from the fall and she died earlier this year aged 63.
Her sisters Pauline Scarr and Terry Featherstone are now suing for tens of thousands of pounds.
Mrs Featherstone, 60, said: ‘You go to Lourdes to get cured and she came back with two broken legs. It’s unbelievable.’
Mrs Scarr, 62, said: ‘We want justice now for Patricia. I want answers.’
Mrs Mitchell, from Bowburn, County Durham, was born with cerebral palsy and had never been able to work. As well as her lifelong condition, she had also survived breast cancer and the death of her husband Ian in 1995.
A devout Roman Catholic, she had travelled to Lourdes several times hoping for a miracle healing, and on one occasion had met Pope John Paul II.
She returned to Lourdes in August 2005 for a the £450 week-long stay with HCPT: The Pilgrimage Trust and Disabled Together.
Two volunteer carers had just helped bathe Mr Mitchell when she fell about 4ft to the ground from a hoist.
She was assessed by a nurse but was told she had not sustained serious injuries, her sisters say.
It was only when Mrs Mitchell returned to the North East that it emerged she had broken her left leg in three places and her right leg once.
For a time, doctors feared they may have to amputate.
After a few weeks Mrs Mitchell left hospital, but, her sisters claim, was never the same and she died on February 4 this year.
Mrs Scarr said: ‘It’s so sad. She was disabled, but she led a good life and I think if it wasn’t for the fall, she would still be here today.’
A spokesman for HCPT said she was unable to comment as the matter was with the organisation insurers.
Disabled Together did not respond to a request for interview.