Mountain Ash Engineer Continues To Be Affected By Guillain-Barré Syndrome Nearly Three Years After Diagnosis
A man who may never walk again after being diagnosed with a rare condition is supporting a major campaign to raise awareness of the impact brain injuries have.
William Marsh, 58, from Glamorgan, Wales, suffered with symptoms including stomach cramps and diarrhoea towards the end of a week-long all-inclusive stay at the Riu Naiboa resort in the Dominican Republic which was booked to celebrate his and wife’s Kathryn’s 25th wedding anniversary.
While the symptoms persisted on his return to the UK, William was planning on returning to work as an engineer. However, the morning he was due back at work, he woke up and had no feeling in his legs – and the sensation then progressed across his entire body.
Holiday illness diagnosed as Guillain-Barré Syndrome
William was subsequently diagnosed with Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a serious neurological condition which is a known complication from bacterial illness such as food poisoning. His condition proved so severe that he was in a coma for about 10 weeks and he spent more than seven months in hospital undergoing rehabilitation. He remains paralysed three years on.
Guillain-Barré Syndrome is a condition caused by a problem with the immune system, the body's natural defence against illness and infection. Normally the immune system attacks any germs that get in to the body, but in people with Guillain-Barré Syndrome, something can go wrong and the system mistakenly attacks the nerves.
Almost three years on from his diagnosis, 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 over the last 12 months as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic given that he is at high risk. He has been unable to return to work due to his brain injury.
Man diagnosed with rare neurological condition asks lawyers for help
William, of Mountain Ash, has instructed specialist international serious injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the circumstances surrounding his illness and help him access the specialist rehabilitation he requires.
TUI UK Limited has denied liability and William’s lawyers are preparing to launch court proceedings.
With investigations continuing, William is now supporting Action for Brain Injury Week. This year’s campaign is focusing on how the COVID-19 pandemic and isolation has affected those with a brain injury.
Expert Opinion“What was meant to be a celebration for William and Kathryn has turned to despair with William still greatly impacted by his illness. What happened to William vividly highlights the impact that gastric illnesses can have.
“Understandably lockdown has been incredibly difficult for William who has relied heavily on his family for their continued support. Action for Brain Injury Week is an important reminder of how people with neurological conditions continue to face challenges and are often reliant and the care of others to make the most of life.
“William still has many questions about how he fell ill. We’re determined to help him establish what happened and also secure him access to the specialist support he needs to ensure he gets the best from life.
“We‘re committed to doing everything we can to help William and his family make the most of life. The next step will be to serve proceedings on TUI UK Limited, the tour operator who provided the holiday to William’s family.” Jatinder Paul - Senior Associate Solicitor
Holiday illness: our client's story
William’s holiday at the Riu Naiboa, which was booked through TUI UK Limited, began on 5 July, 2018. He stayed at the resort with his wife Kathryn, 51, as well as their now 17-year-old daughter.
Looking back, he said: “Kathryn, and my daughter, fell ill first and then it hit me. The symptoms were awful but we just tried to keep on going as I as I was due to go back to work. However, then on the day I was due to return to work I woke up and couldn’t feel my legs. I immediately knew something was serious.”
William’s condition deteriorated quickly as a result of the Guillain-Barré syndrome and he ended up in a coma and on a ventilator in St Charles Hospital. After a long period of rehabilitation he was able to return home, but his life has now changed massively.
He now requires a hoist to be lifted into a wheelchair. He also has severe weakness down his left hand side which means he struggles to grip an empty can.
Engineer with rare Guillain-Barré Syndrome reveals impact COVID-19 has had on recovery
He said: “I need so much help to do even the simplest of tasks now. We had carers visiting the house but because of COVID this was scaled back. I became a lot more reliant on Kathryn for help. Rather than being my wife she is now more my carer.
“It’s incredibly difficult to put into words how life has changed over the last few years. I have made some progress in my recovery but there have been a lot of difficult times trying to come to terms with what has happened and how things are now totally different.
“Before my illness I’d never heard of Guillain-Barré but sadly I know now how dangerous it is.
Support available to those with brain injuries
“I remain determined to get to the bottom of the cause of my illness but also to raise awareness of the support available. Now that life after lockdown is starting to gradually get back to some normality it’s vital that people with brain injuries don’t feel they have to suffer alone as support is out there.”
Action for Brain Injury Week runs from 17-23 May and is supported by the charity Headway. For more information visit www.headway.org.uk
Find out more about our expertise in supporting people following holiday illness at our dedicated holiday accidents and illness section. Alternatively to speak to an expert contact us or call 0370 1500 100.