10:30 - 23 September 2006

Marianne Thomas believes holiday jabs may have killed her partner.James Atkins was given a triple injection in one arm against diphtheria, tetanus and polio on January 4, 2005.

In the other arm he had a vaccine against hepatitis A ready for a dream holiday in South Africa.

Within two days the skin on his hands started to flake off and he grew wart-like lumps on his knuckles.

He got severe pains in his wrist and for the next two months felt cold.

Mr Atkins started feeling increasingly tired and by the end of January was sleeping for three hours each day, on top of a full night's sleep.

The 65-year-old had a third injection - against typhoid - on January 25.

Shortly after he complained of feeling like he had a cold.

By the end of February his breathing was bad, he was sleeping for 18 to 20 hours a day and had lost his appetite.

He was taken to Cheltenham General Hospital on March 4 and died of adult respiratory distress syndrome and bronchial pneumonia on March 21.

At an inquest at Cirencester Magistrates' Court, three doctors said the jabs wouldn't have caused his death.

But they couldn't say what had brought on his illness.

His partner thinks the holiday jabs triggered his illness and says treatment at the hospital was too little too late.

Ms Thomas said Mr Atkins was a fit man who had hardly ever been ill before he had the injection.

They both believed his illness was the result of the injection because his health changed almost overnight.

Ms Thomas said: "He was fit and active with lots of energy. After the injections he was like a different man.

"It was a massive downhill slope but I never thought he'd die.

"When we were called to the hospital to hear he'd had multiple organ failure I was shocked. I was devastated and angry.

"I miss him every day. He was like a breath of spring in my life. I can't see the point without him."

Doctors said many patients with adult respiratory distress syndrome never find a cause.

Gloucestershire Coroner Alan Crickmore recorded a verdict of death by natural causes.

He said: "He died as a result of the natural disease process coming to a conclusion."

The couple met through a dating agency in December 2000. They moved in together in Broadway in March 2002 and ran a B &B.

They were meant to fly to South Africa on March 31. Mr Atkins had planned the trip as a surprise and had saved more than 5,000 to pay for it.

Mr Atkins had been married twice and leaves two children. He worked as a mechanical engineer and then a freelance sales consultant.

Ms Thomas said: "He was a wonderful man, kind, totally unselfish. He treated me like a princess. We hoped to have 20 years together.

"I don't accept he died of natural causes - he could well have been poisoned by the vaccinations."