Natalie Rawnsley only had one bite from the suspicious-looking meal, but that bite turned out to be fatal.
As the Herfordshire Mercury reports, Natalie was on vacation in Greece with her husband, Stewart, and their two sons. They were into the second week of the trip, staying at a hotel on the island of Cofu and doing what parents of young children often do when out to eat with the kids — taking turns.JESHOOTS/Pexels
Stewart told the Mercury that the family would eat at one of the restaurants or buffets and the parents would split up to get their dinner:
“The set up Natalie and I had agreed was we took it in turns alternatively either to go up and get the kids food and our food while the other joined the longer queue for nicer food.
I had both my boys with me, we had pasta, bread and sausages. Natalie had a completely different dinner which consisted of chicken, salad, prawns, and vegetables.”
On the day Natalie fell ill, Stewart and the children were already seated when Natalie joined them. He told the Mercury that Natalie immediately noticed something wrong with her chicken dish:
“Natalie started to eat hers, and as she cut the chicken, the chicken oozed red blood to which point I commented it looked bloody. She got up took it back replaced the chicken with a different piece and came back and ate it.”
The mom had a few more bites of her dinner, but began complaining about feeling ill later that evening. By 3 a.m., her condition had deteriorated to the point where she spent the night getting sick in the bathroom of their hotel room.
The next day, Natalie was sent to a nearby medical center and later moved to Corfu’s hospital, about 40 miles away. At about 11 p.m. that evening, Stewart was advised to get to the hospital immediately. When he arrived, he found her surrounded by doctors, but still able to speak to him. He told the Mercury:
“She was fully awake and aware, and happy to see me, but obviously distressed and concerned. There was pain in her legs and she had also had a number of red blotches all over her.”
The family would later learn that a nurse wanted to fly Natalie to a hospital on the Greek mainland, where there were better medical facilities. Meanwhile, Natalie was developing blood clots all over her body.
Over the next several hours, Natalie’s conditioned became critical. Stewart told The Sun that he and Natalie’s brother noticed her heart rate getting weaker:
“I screamed out and her brother screamed out. Medical assistance arrived and we were removed from the room. We were outside the door and they were in there five or ten minutes and then the same nurse came out and apologized as there wasn’t anything more she could do, and Natalie died.”
Though Natalie was a fit, 37-year-old stay-at-home mom and triathlete, the food poisoning caused by the bad piece of chicken was more than her system could handle.
People reports that Professor Sebastien Lucas believes Natalie’s initial case of food poisoning led to a condition known as disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC).
According to the National Institutes of Health, DIC is a disorder wherein overactive proteins create a series of blood clots in the body, which can affect blood flow to the major organs. Lucas added that Natalie was probably genetically predisposed to have a bad reaction to food poisoning:
“It depends on what your genes are. It seems like Mrs. Rawsley had the wrong genes — to put it crudely.”
At the inquest into Natalie’s death, Assistant Coroner Dr Shirley Radcliffe testified that she believes Natalie’s bite of uncooked chicken caused an e-coli infection, which then developed into DIC:
“The most common infection that causes this condition is E-Coli. It all fits together with her having contracted from uncooked chicken which is a source of this infection. The timeline fits very well with her having developed initially gastroenteritis but then this additional condition DIC that certain individuals can develop.”
Radcliffe added that there was little that anyone could do to help once Natalie’s condition became critical:
“We have to consider its very patient-specific, some patients will be susceptible to this and some will not. There’s nothing anyone can do to reverse it.”
Natalie is survived by her husband and their two children.