A British family is suing after the mother died from eating uncooked chicken at a hotel restaurant in Corfu, Greece.
Natalie Rawnsley, 37, was dining at a hotel buffet while on vacation with her family in August 2017.
The mom of two, from Hertfordshire, England, selected a piece of chicken from the buffet and brought it back to the table.
“Natalie started to eat hers and as she cut the chicken the chicken oozed red blood to which point I commented it looked bloody,” her husband, Stewart, said in court, according to the Hertfordshire Mercury. “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.”
Stewart said that Natalie started feeling sick that night, and began throwing up around 3 a.m. The couple called a doctor the next day, who diagnosed her with gastroenteritis. But she continued vomiting and asked for a second opinion a few hours later.
“The second doctor said because she had been sick for so long she needed additional medical help so she was going to the medical center a number of kilometers away from the hotel,” Stewart said.
That evening, she was moved from the medical center to a hospital on the island as her condition worsened.
“There was pain in her legs and she had also had a number of red blotches all over her,” Stewart said.
Doctors wanted to airlift Natalie to a hospital on Greece’s mainland, but she was not well enough to move. With her family by her bedside, she continued to deteriorate and her family called for help.
“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,” Stewart said.
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An infections expert called to testify at the trial explained that though Natalie was a fit triathlete, there are some people who are genealogically predisposed to react badly to food poisoning.
“It depends on what your genes are,” the expert, Professor Sebastien Lucas, said. “It seems like Mrs. Rawsley had the wrong genes — to put it crudely.”
He explained that food poisoning can escalate to a condition called disseminated intravascular coagulation, or DIC, which affects the body’s ability to clot blood and stop bleeding.
The assistant coroner, Dr. Shirley Radcliffe, agreed that Natalie most likely contracted E. coli from uncooked chicken.
“The timeline fits very well with her having developed initially gastroenteritis, but then this additional condition DIC that certain individuals can develop,” Radcliffe said. “We have to consider it’s very patient-specific; some patients will be susceptible to this and some will not.”