A BOURNEMOUTH woman has described how she ended up paralysed and in a medically-induced coma after suffering with a simple cold.

Danielle Guinness, 29, who works as a train guard, became ill in January on the day she was due to fly to Cambodia to volunteer as an English teacher for a month.

"I had what I thought was a cold and a bad virus but after three weeks of having that, my feet and hands went numb and I was losing the colour in them," she said. "The numbness climbed form my feet to my knees and I couldn't walk, then it climbed higher still."

After going to the Royal Bournemouth Hospital Danielle learned she had a condition called Guillain-Barré syndrome which, the NHS says, is thought to be caused by a problem with the immune system, the body's natural defence against illness and infection.

Normally the immune system attacks any germs that get into the body. But in people with Guillain-Barré syndrome, something goes wrong and it mistakenly attacks and damages the nerves. The syndrome can be triggered by an operation, a virus or even a stomach upset.

Danielle fell into the 25 per cent of victims who also suffer an attack on the muscles in their lungs. "I was fine for about a week and then, within an hour, ended up in intensive care because I couldn't breathe," she said.

Her condition deteriorated so badly, and she was so exhausted by trying to breathe, she asked to be 'put to sleep' and was placed in a medically-induced coma which lasted for ten days.

"The hospital were amazing but when I came round I was aware of what was going on but was paralysed from head to toe," she said. "I couldn't move and because I'd had a tracheotomy with a tube in my throat, couldn't speak, either. I felt trapped in my own body."

She had to cancel her volunteer trip but has vowed to try and do it on another occasion as she has just started walking again and plans to write a book about her experience.

"What I want to do now is raise awareness of this condition - May is Guillain-Barré awareness month," she said. "The condition is really quite rare, only about one in 100,000 people will get it - there were only two other cases in the hospital while I was there."

*Danielle can be contacted about her book on daniellemcg21@hotmail.co.uk