A mother has died from E. coli food poisoning after eating a very small amount of uncooked chicken in Greece.
Thirty-seven-year-old Natalie Rawnsley was enjoying her holiday with her husband and two young sons on the Greek island of Corfu when she was taken ill. She died 36 hours later.
The Westminster Coroner’s Court was told that Natalie ate the chicken in a hotel restaurant and then died as a result of blood clots that formed all around her body and blocked her blood vessels.
Her husband, Stewart Rawnsley, explained that the insurance company said that she should not be taken to another hospital on the Greek mainland. At the company’s insistence, he added, they stayed in Corfu, where she later died.
Natalie was fit and healthy as well as being a triathlete.
She was at the start of a second week of holiday when she was taken ill.
Mr Rawnsley said: “The hotel had two or three restaurants. It was a buffet or restaurant and we had all four of us eating together.
“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.
“We were already at the table when Natalie came back with her food. 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.”
That evening, she complained on a couple of occasions that she didn’t feel very well. Mr Rawnsley was then awoken in the middle of the night to find her vomiting.
The inquest heard: “The doctor came at around 7am. After he diagnosed gastroenteritis at that point he told us to separate – to stop me and the kids catching it. I took the kids for breakfast, took them for a swim.
“At 11am I came back to check on her. She was still being sick and asked me to go back to the doctors and get more assistance.
“The second doctor said because she had been sick for so long she needed additional medical help so she was going to the medical centre a number of kilometres away from the hotel.
“An ambulance arrived at around 1pm. I was aware she had been moved from the medical centre to the Corfu hospital in the early evening by text message.
“At 11pm in the evening the first doctor – who saw her at 7am – he knocked on my door and explained that I needed to get dressed and I needed to come to the hospital quickly.
“I thought my wife was going to be home in the morning.
“The hospital was on the other side of the island about 70km away from my memory. The A&E department was empty.
“My wife was down the end of the room surrounded by about eight people. 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.”
Later on, with her family gathered around her, she deteriorated and died.
The coroner recorded a verdict of accidental consumption of E-Coli infected chicken.
The coroner concluded: “I think it seems very clear-cut. 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.
“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.”