Watch: I was in a coma for five weeks but left hospital to find I had been evicted from my home

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She is now staying in social housing with nothing but a bed and hospital gowns

A Bristol woman with sickle cell disease was evicted from her home whilst in a coma - and came out of intensive care to find all of her possessions had gone.

Juliet Iswan, 43, was in Bristol Royal Infirmary hospital from February 2023 after suffering from a stroke which took her into coma.

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She remained in the ICU until just two weeks ago in January 2024 - but Juliet is now staying in social housing - with nothing but a hospital bed and hospital gowns.

Juliet was in a coma for five weeks. Before being rushed into hospital, Juliet had a home at the emergency housing accommodation Connolly & Callaghan, in Bristol - where she had been living for eight years.

But whilst Juliet was in a coma, all of her belongings - including £300 in cash, her passport, irreplaceable family jewellery as well as other possessions - were either sold or disposed of - and she can not find any record of them.

Juliet, who was born in Uganda but has been living in Bristol since 2005, said: "I was told when I came out of a coma that I had been evicted from my home and all my things were gone.

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"The most important things I cannot even put a monetary value on - necklaces, earrings, every gift I ever got from my parents was in that box - my Mum, my Grandma - and it's all apparently gone.

"I've lost all my clothes, shoes still in boxes - I loved to walk everyday come rain come shine, I would walk but now I have nothing. I don't even know where my passport is. I'm now in a cold house with just a hospital bed and that is it - how can you discharge someone to this life? From a coma to this - it's freezing cold - this is no way to live. I have nothing!

"Between the council and Connolly & Callaghan, no one is taking responsibility for my stuff. If I had left the flat to go to Glastonbury or something - I would understand, but they knew I was in the hospital literally unconscious."

Juliet was born with sickle cell disease - a serious and lifelong health condition, which causes chronic pain, fatigue and other serious health problems, such as infection, acute chest syndrome and stroke - and there is no cure.

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Juliet explains how the disease means she goes to sleep in pain, "with a traffic jam of cells in your body which hinders the movement of blood in your body", often leaving her 'feeling like she's counting down the days of her life.'

After suffering a severe stroke in 2009 - her life dramatically changed, as Juliet became physically disabled and had to have multiple hip replacements - as well as other surgeries.

Since then, Juliet recalls being in and out of hospital - but was left in the BRI for 10 months when she suffered from a stroke. Juliet then went into a coma, brought about by Cerebral edema - swelling of the brain - in February 2023.

She said: "When I was in hospital I was living in temporary accommodation - a one bedroom flat in a Stokes Croft house with Connolly & Callaghan.

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"But when I had woken up from my coma, my sickle cell nurse had to inform me I was literally homeless and had been evicted.

"I didn't know what to say or think, I couldn't speak. I just had to try and block this and focus on getting well - but remember asking what had happened to all my stuff inside the property.

"The nurse said to me, 'I didn't want to tell you - but the housing agents said all your things are mixed with everyone's."

Juliet was informed she or a family member could collect some of her 'important' items, but upon collection, her friend was only handed Juliet's medication and an empty jewellery box - not her passport, or cash or sentimental jewellery.

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Juliet was also told whilst in hospital that a homeless officer had spoken with her agents, saying Juliet was about to be discharged and had been provided with a one bedroom council flat - so they wanted to collect her things so when she went to her new 'home', she could have her belongings.

Juliet explained: "They were told it was all gone. At first I couldn't believe it, then I just started crying. They could have called to tell me they were going to get rid of it - but they didn't even let me or the hospital know.

"They knew I was in a coma - they knew my state, but no one was informed at all. They shouldn't do this to people - just because I don't have a big family to fight my corner or anyone to hold people accountable - it's completely inhumane."

Before her health took a turn for the worst, Juliet worked part-time for OSCAR Bristol - a voluntary organisation and registered charity whose primary role is to improve the quality of health and well-being for individuals and families living with Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia. She has been supported by the organisation during her time in and out of hospital.

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Alphanso Davis, an OSCAR Chairperson, wrote to the Council in August stating his "utter disgust at the lack of care" shown by the housing office.

Juliet says she had been living in accommodation with Connolly & Callaghan for over six years - she explained the agents knew that whenever she was not in her home, she would be in hospital and her condition and sudden hospital admittance "was not just out of the blue".

Julie Iswan Dokoria who has sickle cell disease and was evicted from her home whilst she was in intensive careJulie Iswan Dokoria who has sickle cell disease and was evicted from her home whilst she was in intensive care
Julie Iswan Dokoria who has sickle cell disease and was evicted from her home whilst she was in intensive care | Adam Hughes / SWNS

Her friend, Richard, went to her building she was living and saw a representative from C&C - named Paul, who assured Juliet's belongings were safe and they could be collected when she left hospital. Richard says after "multiple attempts to contact Paul", he has heard nothing since.

A spokesperson for Connolly & Callaghan said: "In line with our contractual obligations, we generally only store belongings for seven days. All belongings are brought into our properties at the individuals own risk, as stated in the admissions paperwork.

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"It goes without saying that we would always try our best to help those residents in our accommodation.

"However, we are restricted on storage, and have a constant influx of belongings that we're required to keep for a week. In order to dispose of belongings, we must receive a TORT letter from the statutory agency and a copy is sent to the resident by the statutory agency, then and only then are belongings disposed of.

"There were a couple of enquiries about Juliet's belongings this week, however, the initial response from my colleague was that we generally wouldn't keep belongings for more than seven days, so if Juliet was discharged eight months ago (as the enquirer had stated) it's unlikely we still have them.

"My colleague offered to pass the enquirer over to another colleague who could further investigate. This colleague remembered the case and recalled that important documents that had been retained.

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"We have no complaint on file regarding this matter, nor a record of the 'list of five things' or missing belongings. No belongings have been auctioned.

"We do empathise with the residents booked into our accommodation and will always try and accommodate where we can.

"It's really disappointing that the account below is inaccurate and portraying our colleagues as if they do not care about those in our accommodation. This is not true."

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A spokesperson for Bristol City Council has said the housing provider is responsible for a tenant's possessions, not the council.

They said: “It is the council’s responsibility to provide emergency accommodation to those eligible, while we work with them to find a more permanent solution.

“Housing benefit is paid to the accommodation provider to cover the costs of the accommodation. Where an individual requires a prolonged hospital stay then their temporary accommodation is held for a short period and housing benefit continues to be paid.

"If an individual’s hospital stay continues without a known date for discharge the temporary accommodation place will be made available for another person who is in need of emergency support.

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“Officers will monitor the individual’s situation so that when they are ready to be discharged from hospital, emergency accommodation is found and we continue to work with them to find long term solutions that meet their housing need.”

You can donate to a fundraiser set up by Juliet's friend to assist her in building possessions at: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/helpjulierebuild

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