A KEEN windsurfer was paralysed from the neck down after eating undercooked chicken.

Richard Jackson lost the use of his arms and struggled to swallow as his condition deteriorated.

Doctors were baffled when Richard, from Portslade, was admitted to hospital in a state of delirium.

The 39-year-old IT worker said he had been in London for a week and eaten at several different venues so did not know exactly where he contracted food poisoning.

He said: “In December last year I developed mild food poisoning from undercooked chicken which triggered a severe rare auto-immune condition leaving me paralysed.

“I was admitted to St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester as I started having problems being able to walk.

“I quickly deteriorated and within 24 hours I was unable to use my arms or even swallow. I was delirious and drifting in and out of consciousness.

“At this point the doctors did not know what was happening but they knew they had to do something quickly.

“I was moved to intensive care, placed on a ventilator and effectively switched off in a coma for ten days to give myself the best chances of survival and give doctors the time to work out what was happening.”

He said doctors discovered his immune system had attacked his spinal cord, leaving him paralysed from the neck down.

After waking up, he slowly regained some movement in his arms and feet and was gradually taken off assisting treatments including a ventilator and feeding tubes.

He had lost a significant amount of muscle and “all strength” in his core and so embarked on a challenging road to recovery.

Richard was told the first three months were crucial.

He attended the purpose-built neurorehabilitation service at St Richard’s Hospital called Donald Wilson House and said the care he received was “fantastic”.

Richard said: “I was given 24-hour nursing care, a private room, daily physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy.

“Each mealtime I was winched into a wheelchair and taken to a communal room for meals and to meet the other people there.

“Physio started immediately. I could only manage a few minutes at first but with all the attention I showed strong signs of recovery.

“In just under two months they taught me to sit, eat, speak clearly, transfer to wheelchairs by myself, stand brushing my teeth, get into cars from a wheelchair and, greatest of all, to be able to walk again.”

He said the staff at Donald Wilson had given him “the best shot at achieving my best outcome”.

Richard said: “Although I haven’t made a full recovery and still have a lot of issues, I have everything to thank Donald Wilson for as I have recovered my mobility and a near normal quality of life.”

So he has decided to give something back to the institution which helped him walk again.

On December 8, one year on from the illness which left him paralysed, he will complete a 5km course around the nearby Goodwood Motor Circuit to raise money for Donald Wilson House.

Richard said: “It may not sound far, but it’s a miracle that I can even attempt this.”

His GoFundMe page, called Donald Wilson Neuro Rehab 5k Run, has currently raised more than £1,000 with a target of £1,250.