One man was told he could never walk again after suffering catastrophic food poisoning that left him paralyzed while on a trip to the Dominican Republic.
It should be William Marsh and Mrs. Kathryn’s dream island vacation of a lifetime.
The couple had traveled from Wales to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary with a week-long all-inclusive vacation package at the Riu Naiboa Resort.
But the trip abroad ended with William, 58, in a coma and on a ventilator.
William said he was now living with a long-term chronic illness because of his experience Wales Online He plans to initiate legal proceedings against the vacation operator TUI.
William of Mountain Ash, Rhondda Cynon Taf, suffered from symptoms such as stomach cramps and diarrhea towards the end of the couple’s stay.
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When the couple returned to the UK about three years ago after the trip, William said he planned to go back to work as engineers, but claims he continued to have symptoms when he got home.
During the morning when he was about to go back to work, he woke up with no feeling in his legs. He claims the sensation then spread over his entire body.
Williams’ vacation at Riu Naiboa, which he believes was booked through TUI UK Ltd, began on July 5, 2018.
He stayed at the resort with his wife Kathryn (51) and their now 17-year-old daughter.
William said, “Kathryn and my daughter got sick first and then it hit me. The symptoms were terrible, but we just tried to keep going as I was supposed to be back to work.
“But the day I was due to return to work, I woke up and couldn’t feel my legs. I knew immediately that something was serious.”
William was later diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome – a serious neurological disorder that is a known complication of some types of bacterial foodborne illness.
Normally the immune system attacks all germs that enter the body, but in people with Guillain-Barré syndrome, the body’s defenses get mixed up and mistakenly attack the nerves.
Williams’ condition quickly deteriorated as a result of Guillain-Barré, and he ended up in a coma and on a ventilator at St. Charles Hospital.
After a long period of rehabilitation, he was able to return home, but his life has now changed drastically.
Now a hoist needs to be lifted into a wheelchair. He also has severe weakness on his left side, which means he struggles to grip as much as an empty can.
William said, “I need so much help doing even the simplest of tasks now. We had caregivers visiting the house but this was scaled back because of Covid. I was much more dependent on Kathryn for help.
“Instead of being my wife, she’s more my caregiver now.
“It’s incredibly difficult to put into words how life has changed in recent years.
“I’ve made some progress in my recovery, but there have been many difficult times trying to come to terms with what happened and how things are completely different now.
“I had never heard of Guillain-Barré before my illness, but unfortunately I now know how dangerous it is.
“I am still determined to get to the bottom of the cause of my illness, but also to raise awareness of the support available.
“Now that life is slowly returning to normal after being locked up, it is important that people with brain injuries don’t feel like they are suffering on their own because support is out there.”
William remains paralyzed three years later. The father of three still cannot walk and is essentially confined to his living room due to the extent of his needs.
His position has become particularly difficult in the past 12 months due to the Covid-19 pandemic as he is at high risk. Because of his brain injury, he was unable to return to work.
William has now appointed specialist international serious injury lawyers to Irwin Mitchell to investigate the circumstances surrounding his illness and provide him with access to the professional rehabilitation he needs.
He claims TUI UK Limited has denied liability and Williams lawyers are preparing to initiate legal proceedings.
Jatinder Paul, a senior solicitor and international serious injury attorney for Irwin Mitchell, who represents William, said, “What was meant to be a celebration for William and Kathryn has turned to despair and William is still badly affected by his illness. What happened to William clearly shows the effects gastric disease can have.
“Understandably, the lockdown was incredibly difficult for William, who has relied heavily on his family for his continued support. The Brain Injury Week promotion is an important reminder of how people with neurological conditions continue to face challenges and often rely on others to get the most out of life.
“William still has a lot of questions about how he got sick. We are determined to help him determine what happened and ensure that he has access to the professional assistance he needs to make sure he is getting the best out of his life.
“We are determined to do everything we can to help William and his family get the best of life.” The next step will be to initiate legal proceedings against TUI UK Limited, the tour operator who provided the Williams family with the vacation. “
A spokesman for TUI UK said: “We are sorry to hear about Mr Marsh’s experience. As this is a legal matter now, it would be inappropriate to make any further comments.
“We want to assure our customers that we regularly check all hotels we offer for health and safety, including hygiene.”
Der Spiegel asked Riu Naiboa for a comment.
William supports the campaign for Brain Injury Week, which runs from May 17th to 23rd.
This year’s campaign focuses on how the Covid-19 pandemic and isolation has affected people with brain injuries.