'Super hero' dad left paralysed after tiredness turns out to be rare disease

Kamilia Palu
News Editor

A healthy father of two has been struck down with a rare disease that has left his face paralysed and robbed him of feeling in his legs and hands.

Sam Hambly, from Currimundi on the Sunshine Coast, is bed-ridden in hospital after being diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), an auto-immune disorder where the body’s immune system begins to attack the nerves connecting the brain and spinal cord with the rest of the body.

Sam and his wife, Amy, both 27, had no idea what was around the corner when Sam started suffering from fatigue three weeks ago.

“He started getting really tired, he didn’t have the strength to go to the gym,” Amy told Yahoo News Australia.

The numbness spread from Sam's toes up his legs, eventually leaving him unable to walk. Source: Supplied/Amy Hambly

“But he was just so determined to keep working, he just didn’t think anything of it.”

Sam then had a bout of gastro, followed by a sore throat and soon noticed his toes had gone numb.

Thinking his neck was out, he went and saw a chiropractor – but the next day the numbness had spread to his feet.

Sam tried to persevere at his job as a plumber, but the strange feeling quickly spread further.

“Two weeks ago on Wednesday, his legs gave way at work ­– he collapsed,” Amy said, saying he was finding it more and more difficult to control his limbs.

But when Sam went to hospital, the doctor believed he had sinus issues and sent him home with Endone and antibiotics.

“On Saturday he realised his left eye wasn’t shutting and we thought it was the Endone,” Amy said.

Amy and Sam, pictured with their children Darcy, two, and Leo, one. Source: Supplied/Amy Hambly

“By Sunday the whole left side of his face wasn’t moving – I thought he’d had a stroke.”

After he was rushed back to hospital, doctors conducted a series of tests including an MRI and a lumbar puncture, and were eventually able to diagnose Sam with GBS.

“Sam can move his legs but he can’t feel them,” Amy said. “His face is paralysed so his face doesn’t move. His arms and legs he can move but he can’t feel.”

Thankfully, Sam’s chest isn’t affected and he is able to breathe on his own.

Doctors have warned Amy that Sam’s condition could worsen before it gets better, but with intensive rehabilitation he could make a full recovery.

According to the Brain Foundation, 80 to 90 per cent of patients make a full recovery from GBS, although recovery can take up to a year in some cases.

Couple humbled by support from community

Amy has taken time off work to be by her husband’s side and is unsure when she will be able to return.

Sam was an avid rugby player several years ago, but now focuses on work and the gym. Source: Supplied/Amy Hambly

To ease any financial burden, a friend of the couple set up a GoFundMe page.

“We might not be able to help Sam get back on his feet sooner although we can help to take some of the financial burden off his shoulders so he can concentrate on getting back to his normal super hero Daddy, strong self,” the crowdfunding page reads.

For Amy, the support – emotionally and mentally as well as financially – has been overwhelming.

“Sam’s one of those people that likes to do things himself and provide for himself. He’s so happy and generous – but he can’t believe the help and support he’s had,” she said.

“I can’t believe it, I can’t say thank you enough, it just shows how supportive everyone on the Sunshine Coast is. It’s just beautiful really. Hopefully one day I can pay it forward.”

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