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"Natalie started to eat hers and as she cut the chicken the chicken oozed red blood to which point I commented it looked bloody." Not the start you want to a meal while on vacation.
That was widower Stewart Rawnsley, describing food from a restaurant buffet in Corfu, Greece. His late wife, Natalie, immediately returned the chicken for another piece, but not before consuming a bite. That bite would turn out to be deadly, as Natalie's condition deteriorated from food poisoning to fatal over the course of that night. Natalie Rawnsley passed away less than 48 hours after consuming the uncooked chicken -- so what happened?
The Wrong Genes
"It seems like Mrs. Rawnsley had the wrong genes -- to put it crudely," infections expert Professor Sebastien Lucas told the Hertfordshire Mercury. "It depends on what your genes are. Assuming it is an E-Coli infection -- coming from uncooked chicken seems a very reasonable theory."
"There's a tipping point when it starts producing DIC," Lucas added. "By definition, once it starts doing that, you are doomed." DIC refers to disseminated intravascular coagulation, which happens when proteins that control blood clotting become overactive, causing small blood clots in the blood vessels and cutting off the normal blood supply to organs such as the liver, brain, or kidneys. Rawnsley was initially diagnosed with gastroenteritis, inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract that can be caused by ingestion of E. coli bacteria, and can be linked to DIC.
The Wrong Restaurant
"I screamed out and her brother screamed out," Stewart Rawnsley told a coroner's court, after Natalie's heart rate monitor became weaker in the hospital. "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."
She had been moved to a hospital in Corfu after her condition worsened overnight. Stewart says Natalie started throwing up in the hotel bathroom around 3 a.m. and was still sick at 11 a.m. the next day. "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," Rawnsley said. Doctors allegedly wanted to fly Natalie to a hospital on the Greek mainland, which had better facilities, her condition worsened, making travel impossible.
There's no word on whether Rawnsley will take legal action against the hotel that served the raw chicken. But lawsuits can be filed to hold restaurants accountable after food poisoning incidents, including wrongful death claims if the incident proves fatal.