Sadly,tragically a fit and healthy mother died on a family holiday in Greece after eating just one mouthful of uncooked chicken. Natalie Rawnsley caught food poisoning at a hotel restaurant but within 36 hours blood clots formed all over her body and she died. The 37-year-old, from Harpenden, Herts, lay bleeding from every orifice in a hospital bed in Corfu on August 13 last year while she was on holiday with her husband and two children.
Husband Stewart told Westminster Coroner’s Court: ‘The hotel had two or three restaurants. It was a buffet or restaurant and we had all four of us eating together. ‘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. ‘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. She had had a few mouthfuls of the other piece of chicken.’ Mr Rawnsley said his wife complained of feeling unwell and he was woken at 3am when she started throwing up in the hotel bathroom.
As Mrs Rawnsley’s brother and niece arrived, her relatives gathered around her as she lay unconscious in the makeshift intensive care unit. Mr Rawnsley added: ‘At around 1pm her brother and I notice her heart monitor was getting weaker and it continued. ‘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 apologised as there wasn’t anything more she could do, and Natalie died.’ The court was told the probability of contracting the more serious illness from food poisoning depends entirely on your genes.
Infections expert Professor Sebastien Lucas said: ‘Assuming it is an E-Coli infection, there’s a tipping point when it starts producing DIC. ‘By definition, once it starts doing that, you are doomed. It’s a very rapid process and so the chronology I heard from Mr Rawnsley fits to a “t” with that view. ‘They start saying I feel very unwell but within a day they are dead.’ Professor Lucas confirmed that not much can be done once infection sets in and Mrs Rawnsley was the third person he had seen die under these circumstances this year. Dr Athanasia Vargiamidou said: ‘The blood was not able to clot properly, it clotted a lot and at the same time.’ Assistant Coroner Dr Shirley Radcliffe recorded a verdict of death by the accidental consumption of E-Coli infected chicken.