After being paralysed from the neck down for nearly a year, Samuel has walked out of Mount Druitt Hospital into his wife’s arms

Samuel Mercado and wife Belinda Pomizawa

On a seemingly normal August day, the Mount Druitt Hospital community witnessed a moment of utter wonder: Samuel Mercado, once paralysed from the neck down, took steady steps into the awaiting embrace of his wife, Belinda Pomizawa.

After an 11-month battle with Guillen-Barre Syndrome – a condition where the immune system turns against the body’s nerves, causing paralysis – Samuel’s confident journey through the doors of Mount Druitt Hospital served as a testament to his grit and determination through a sometimes gruelling period of recovery.

Samuel’s health battle began when he suddenly collapsed at home in September 2022. Quickly, the situation escalated.

His lungs collapsed and he needed immediate medical attention. He was promptly admitted to Blacktown Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

For three months, he fought for his life.

By December, was transferred to Mount Druitt Hospital’s Ward 1C for intensive treatment.

Throughout his journey, Samuel’s spirit remained unbroken. He drew strength from the unwavering support of the healthcare professionals who surrounded him.

“I received fantastic, professional care from the staff at Blacktown and Mount Druitt Hospitals,” he said.

“They are all beautiful people and in the 11 months that I’ve been in hospital, they have made me feel like I’m in a home away from home and not a hospital.

“Even though I am far away from home and have been here a long time, I feel like I’m living with people who really care about me.

“They see me not just as a patient but as a person and a friend.”

WSLHD hospital staff went to great lengths to make Samuel comfortable during his stay – including designing a staff-alerting bed buzzer with the Maintenance team that Samuel could activate with his cheek.

The condition had a serious physical and psychological effect on Samuel. At times he felt his lowest; helpless and having to rely on people for assistance. He credits his recovery to the kindness, interactions, support, and encouragement from the staff.

“I would have two to three nurses taking care of me at all times, from getting me out of bed, getting into the wheelchair, to going to the gym where the Physiotherapist and Occupational Therapists would work with me.

“Everyone in the hospital I have come in contact with all played a major part in my recovery.

“When my Physiotherapist and my Occupational Therapist saw me walking for the first time, they actually cried because it took me so long to walk again.”

Samuel’s story isn’t just a testament to his resilience, but also to the tenacity and passion of those who cared for him.

Hoping to inspire others grappling with Guillen-Barre Syndrome, Samuel was passionate about sharing his story on The Pulse.

“There is always light at the end of the tunnel.

“It may take you three months; it may take six months but there will be a time that you are going to be standing up and walking out.”

Today, as this Mount Druitt father-of-three walks beside his loved ones, he credits his second chance at life to the compassion and dedication of the BMDH team.