William, who was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome two years ago.

Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is often triggered by a viral or bacterial infection such as flu or food poisoning, it causes the nerves in the arms and legs to become inflamed and stop working, usually leading to temporary paralysis which may last from a few days to many months.

An estimated 1,300 people (1 to 2 people per 100,000) are affected by GBS annually in the UK.

About 80 per cent will make a good recovery, but between 5 and 10 per cent of people will not survive and 10 and 15 per cent may experience long term residual effects ranging from limited mobility or dexterity, to life-long dependency on a wheelchair.

One such example is William Marsh, 57, from Glamorgan, Wales, who suffered from symptoms including stomach cramps and diarrhoea towards the end of a week-long all-inclusive holiday to the Dominican Republic in September 2018 which was booked to celebrate his 25th wedding anniversary.

While the symptoms persisted on his return to the UK, William was planning on returning to work as an engineer, as he could not afford time off.

However, the morning he was due back to work he woke up and had no feeling in his legs – and the sensation then progressed across his entire body.

William was subsequently diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome and his condition proved so severe that he was in a coma for 10 weeks and he spent 7 months in hospital undergoing rehabilitation.

Almost 2 years on from his diagnosis, William still cannot walk, and is essentially confined to his living room due to the extent of his needs. He has been unable to return to work.

Jatinder Paul, Irwin Mitchell LLP.

William has now instructed Irwin Mitchell to help him access the specialist rehabilitation he requires.

This is a devastating case which clearly highlights the impact that bacterial illness can have in some instances.

Guillain-Barré syndrome can emerge following a bacterial infection and can cause anything from numbness to muscle weakness. In very severe cases like William’s, it can even cause long-term, or permanent, paralysis.

William has faced the most challenging period of his life and continues to hold many questions regarding what he has been through. William’s condition deteriorated quickly as a result of the Guillain-Barré syndrome and he ended up in a coma and on a ventilator in St Charles Hospital.

After a long period of treatment William was able to return home, but his life has now changed massively.

He now requires a hoist to be lifted into a wheelchair. He also has severe weakness down his left hand side which means he struggles to grip an empty can.

William has received support from the charity Guillain-Barré and Associated Inflammatory Neuropathies (GAIN).

It is the only national organisation in the UK and Republic of Ireland dedicated to helping people affected by Guillain-Barré syndrome, CIDP and the related conditions.

Shortly after William was diagnosed, GAIN provided an information pack and offered support to the family, including speaking to a recovered patient and through the GAIN personal grants fund. GAIN continue to provide them with support through its Facebook group.

May is GBS Awareness Month and this month sees the launch of #GAINmomentum, an initiative for the charity’s members and friends to promote awareness while challenging themselves to get moving, by setting a personal goal and seeing what can be achieved.

GAIN receives no government funding, relying on the generosity of the public to support its work.

Further information about the charity can be found at www.gaincharity.org.uk.

Jatinder Paul is a senior associate solicitor at Irwin Mitchell LLP.