IT worker is paralysed from neck down after eating undercooked chicken
8th November 2019
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IT worker, 39, is left paralysed from the neck down after eating undercooked chicken in a London restaurant

  • Richard Jackson suspects he ate the chicken in a meal in London last December
  • Lost the use of his arms and struggled to swallow as his condition deteriorated
  • Will mark one-year anniversary of his illness with a run to raise money for charity 

A 39-year-old IT worker was left paralysed from the neck down after being served undercooked chicken in a restaurant. 

Keen windsurfer Richard Jackson, of Portslade, Brighton, who suspects he ate the chicken in a meal in London last December, lost the use of his arms and struggled to swallow as his condition deteriorated.

Although he is still recovering, he will mark the one-year anniversary of his illness on December 8 by tackling a 5km course around the Goodwood Motor Circuit to raise money for Donald Wilson House, which helped his rehabilitation. 


Richard Jackson, of Portslade, Brighton, who suspects he ate the chicken in a meal in London last December, lost the use of his arms and struggled to swallow as his condition deteriorated. He is pictured at a recovery unit 

‘It may not sound far, but it’s a miracle that I can even attempt this’ he said.

Doctors were baffled when he was admitted to hospital in a state of delirium.

He had been in London for a week and eaten at several different venues so does not know exactly where it happened.

‘I developed mild food poisoning from under-cooked chicken which triggered a severe rare auto-immune condition leaving me paralysed,’ he said. 

‘I was admitted to St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester as I started having problems being able to walk.

‘I quickly deteriorated and within 24 hours I was unable to use my arms or even swallow. I was delirious and drifting in and out of consciousness.

‘At this point the doctors did not know what was happening but they knew they had to do something quickly.

‘I was moved to intensive care, placed on a ventilator and effectively switched off in a coma for ten days to give myself the best chances of survival and give doctors the time to work out what was happening.’

Doctors discovered his immune system had attacked his spinal cord, leaving him paralysed from the neck down.

After waking up, he slowly regained some movement in his arms and feet and was gradually taken off assisting treatments including a ventilator and feeding tubes.

But he had lost a significant amount of muscle and all strength in his core, so he had to start a challenging road to recovery.

Mr Jackson will mark the one-year anniversary of his illness on December 8 by tackling a 5km course around the Goodwood Motor Circuit to raise money for Donald Wilson House, which helped his rehabilitation

The first three months were crucial – he attended the purpose-built neuro-rehabilitation service at St Richard’s Hospital called Donald Wilson House and said the care he received was ‘fantastic’.

‘I was given 24-hour nursing care, a private room, daily physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy,’ he said. 

‘Each mealtime I was winched into a wheelchair and taken to a communal room for meals and to meet the other people there.

‘Physio started immediately. I could only manage a few minutes at first but with all the attention I showed strong signs of recovery.

‘In just under two months they taught me to sit, eat, speak clearly, transfer to wheelchairs by myself, stand brushing my teeth, get into cars from a wheelchair and greatest of all, to be able to walk again.’

Mr Jackson said staff at Donald Wilson had given him ‘the best shot at achieving my best outcome’.

He added: ‘Although I haven’t made a full recovery and still have a lot of issues, I have everything to thank Donald Wilson for as I have recovered my mobility and a near normal quality of life.’

His GoFundMe page, called Donald Wilson Neuro Rehab 5k Run, has currently raised more than £1,340 with a target of £1,500. 

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