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Wendy von Rotz and her carer Marinus van der Est. SUR
'Spain saved my life.' Dutch resident wins healthcare court battle in the Netherlands

'Spain saved my life.' Dutch resident wins healthcare court battle in the Netherlands

Wendy von Rotz, who was left disabled after being beaten up in a Malaga pub, underwent a triple bypass in Spain after her home country refused her health funding

Anthony Piovesan

Malaga

Friday, 12 May 2023, 13:05

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A Dutch expat who was brutally bashed at a pub in Malaga 12 years ago has finally won an appeal to be paid compensation by the Netherlands after a series of health woes left her in financial limbo.

Wendy von Rotz suffered brain damage when a drunken customer beat up the then 36-year-old as she tried to shut the bar she worked at in Malaga city one evening in January 2011.

"I ushered him outside and closed the door and then everything went blank. Later it was explained to me that he had gone crazy and kicked me to the ground, hit me and bit me," she told SUR in English.

"I was as healthy as a fox back then and was working at the pub for some extra cash, and today I'm still dealing with the consequences from that terrible night."

Von Rotz, now 48, was forced to move back to the Netherlands to seek medical care as she wasn't insured in Spain.

Neurologists discovered she had suffered damage in five areas of the brain. The mother-of-one had lost some of her vision, had slurred speech and was frequently experiencing epileptic seizures, sometimes five times a day.

She qualified for a national disability scheme and was assigned a caregiver who managed her own state-funded budget, which helped finance her growing health needs.

After rehabilitation she discovered sunshine helped ease her epileptic fits and so Von Rotz would frequently travel back to Spain to spend time at her property in Villanueva de la Concepción.

But one day in 2016 she was rushed to hospital after an epileptic fit caused a blocked artery in her neck.

Medical staff at the Hospital Regional Universitario in Malaga contacted her doctors in The Hague in the Netherlands requesting they operate on her.

Von Rotz said they refused the operation to go ahead and requested she return to the Netherlands as she was already on a waiting list for an operation to unclog a blocked artery in her right leg.

Von Rotz returned for the surgery, but instead received an angioplasty treatment.

"That didn't work because six months later in 2017 both of my legs had blocked arteries. I was in Spain again when I found out and neurologists told me the stents the Netherlands had used in the angioplasty treatment were of inferior quality and had imploded inside me," she said.

Von Rotz required an urgent triple bypass surgery and sought medical help from the Netherlands in 2018, but discovered she would need to pay for it on her own as she had been cut off from her national disability budget.

Court documents seen by SUR in English show Von Rotz had no longer been classified as having a disability following a reassessment of her condition that same year.

"The assessor came to my home and claimed she saw me climb the stairs, which was completely false; I was only yelling up the stairs because I was trying to understand where the assessor was as I'm blind and couldn't see her," Von Rotz said.

Legal action

The surgery formed part of her case against the Netherlands. "How can they say I am not disabled when I'm in a hospital bed unable to walk, with brain damage, blind and suffering epileptic fits," Von Rotz said.

After almost five years since the case was launched through the High Court in the Netherlands Von Rotz received news last week that she had won her case. The state of the Netherlands would need to pay her 12,500 euros as compensation for the past five years, to cover the period she was cut off from accessing her national disability budget.

Von Rotz however will appeal the decision and request she be paid 50,000 euros per year, as that amount was a more accurate estimate of how much her medical needs cost her each year. The judge will hand down its final decision at the end of the month.

"Spain saved my life - if they didn't do that triple bypass surgery I would have died," she said.

"All I want is to have my medical bills paid which should have been paid for by my personal budget my home country was financing, until I was wrongly assessed.

"I had rights because I was disabled and still am, and they were completely disregarded. The outcome of the case so far is a step in the right direction, but this treatment has left me traumatised."

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