Funds are being raised for a Worcester man after a rare condition put him in hospital for six weeks and left him unable to walk.

Richard Portman, who runs the Defence Lab martial arts academy in Worcester, was in good health before being struck down overnight at the start of December.

The 36-year-old complained that his arms and legs felt heavy before going to bed on December 2. When he awoke the next day, he was unable to stand or move at all. By the time tests were being carried out in hospital, he was paralysed from his shoulders to his feet.

Just two days earlier, Mr Portman and his partner Jake Heaton had switched on a Christmas lights display at their home in St Johns to raise money for Worcestershire Breast Unit Haven.

Following a number of CT scans, blood tests and a lumbar puncture, doctors diagnosed Mr Portman with guillain-barré syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that causes a person’s immune system to attack their nerves, causing extreme muscle weakness and paralysis.

Mr Portman was rushed to intensive care and spent five days in a medically-induced coma. He was put on a ventilator and started on IVig (immunoglobulin therapy) to boost his weakened immune system.

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While in the coma, he picked up a chest infection and had to have a tracheostomy. Eventually, he was woken from the coma but initially still needed the ventilator to breathe.

“Those five days seemed to be the longest of our lives,” said Mr Heaton.

“Rich then spent the next eight days in intensive care under the watchful eye of the amazing NHS staff at the hospital.

“Everyday he got that little bit stronger. He was doing physio sessions to try and get his body back moving again. After a few days, Rich started to slowly get the movement back in his fingers and this has been gradually working its way up his upper body.”

After six weeks, Mr Portman is finally being allowed to leave hospital but still can’t go back to his own home just yet.

“We are having to move back into my parents’ house for a while as he can’t do stairs yet,” said Mr Heaton.

“It has been a really hard six weeks and he still has a long road to recovery but he is getting there.”

Worcester News:

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help pay for the wheelchair that Mr Portman will need, as well as physiotherapy sessions, adaptations to his home and other medical expenses.

If you’d like to donate, visit

Mr Portman and Mr Heaton’s Christmas lights display raised a total of £1,410.34 to support breast cancer care in Worcestershire.