Pals who survived Turkey holiday tragedy weren’t poisoned by teeth whitening

Two Belfast men who survived after mysteriously falling ill in Turkey were not poisoned by teeth whitening treatment, a hospital spokesperson says.

Richard Molloy, 33, was discovered dead inside a rented apartment, and pals Aaron Callaghan and Declan Carson, a dad-of-two, were left in a coma after flying to the country for a holiday and dental work.

The hospital that treated Mr Callaghan and Mr Carson told Mirror Online that it has ruled out teeth whitening as the cause of the illness that left the two survivors fighting for their lives.

Mr Callaghan and Mr Carson were released from the Adnan Menderes University Training and Research Hospital, located in Aydin in western Turkey, on Monday afternoon, the spokesperson confirmed.

A post-mortem was taking place at a different site to determine the cause of Mr Molloy’s death. The results have not been released.

Turkish police and a local prosecutor’s office launched an investigation after the three men, all DJs from north Belfast, fell ill at their rented flat in Didim, a seaside resort on the Aegean coast.

They were partying in the hours before they became unwell, according to Turkish media.

Previously, it was said the men had been given “premeds” for their dental treatment and told not to drink alcohol, but there was no suggestion the medication or dental treatment were the cause of Mr Molloy’s death or the reason the other men fell unconscious.

Police were said to be looking at a number of possible causes for the men falling ill and losing consciousness. Police are understood to have arrested two people during the investigation.

A spokesperson for Adnan Menderes University hospital said: “There is no health condition associated with the tooth whitening process.

“Detailed information about the illness and its conditions were given to the competent authorities.”

According to official records, the alarm was raised at 3.15am on Saturday and the first ambulance arrived on scene eight minutes later, the Sabah newspaper reported.

Mr Molloy died and Mr Callaghan and Mr Carson were taken to a local hospital. At one point both were in a coma and on life support, according to reports.

Mr Callaghan and Mr Carson were transferred to Adnan Menderes University hospital, where they arrived at 7.15am and were intubated, the spokesperson said.

They were immediately taken to intensive care, and as their conditions improved they were extubated on Sunday afternoon.

They regained consciousness at some point, and the spokesman said they continued to receive treatment for 24 hours before they were discharged on Monday afternoon.

In his first social media post since the incident, “gutted” Mr Callaghan posted two photos of the pals during their trip and described the death of Mr Molloy, also known as Richie, as “tragic”.

Mr Callaghan wrote on Facebook on Wednesday morning: “Thank you folks for all the well wishes and messages, too many to get back to individually but it’s means the world.

“Thankfully me and Declan are safe and back up on our feet but thoughts and prayers are with the Molloy family on the tragic passing of big Richie.

“An absolute gentleman, I’m absolutely gutted.”

Mr Molloy’s sister Lydia has travelled to Turkey to collect his body.

It is said the friends had been in Turkey for about ten days when they became unwell after partying on Friday night, the Bodrum Olay newspaper reported.

Mr Carson is alleged to have told police they spent the night drinking in bars and back at their flat, the Milliyet newspaper reported.

He allegedly told investigators that Mr Molloy couldn’t breathe at one point, and he and Mr Callaghan also collapsed and lost consciousness.

Mr Carson told how he later woke up in hospital, the report added.

Both were on life support and in a life-threatening condition at one point, said Dr Serkan Oncu of Aydin Adnan Menderes University hospital.

Local officials in Belfast said the men had travelled to western Turkey for teeth whitening treatment.

A source close to the men previously told the Irish Daily Mail: “Apparently they were given premeds for their dental treatment and told not to drink alcohol.

“No one knows what happened after that. Richie’s sister is out there with him now trying to bring him home.”

Before they fell ill, Mr Callaghan, a former player with St James’ Swifts football club, had posted a photo on Friday of the three friends on a boat in Bodrum.

He wrote: “How’s your Friday.”

Members of the men’s devastated families, including Mr Molloy’s sister Lydia and Mr Callaghan’s parents Karen and Mark, have flown to Turkey.

Heartbroken friends have remembered Mr Molloy as a “true gentleman”.

The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust is helping Mr Molloy’s family to repatriate his body.

Colin Bell, from the charity which was set up in memory of his son who died abroad, said they hoped to bring Mr Molloy’s body home by the end of the week, as long as no further Covid-19 restrictions were introduced in the meantime.

The families of the three men were being assisted by the UK Foreign Office and Republic of Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs.

Turkey is a popular destination for foreigners seeking cut-price medical and dental treatment.

The Istanbul International Health Tourism Association said up to 700,000 tourists visited for medical procedures in 2017.

The Association of Turkish Travel Agencies predicts that it will attract two million annual health tourists within three years.