Florida man paralyzed by GBS, stands to propose at Orange Park Medical Center

A male hospital patient with his family and medical team

Jacob Newton had experienced tingling and numbness that was slowly making its way from his toes to his abdomen. By the time he reached Orange Park Medical Center’s emergency room, he was unable to walk. Jacob now knows it was GBS (Guillain-Barre Syndrome) that paralyzed him. It was also the condition that led to a marriage proposal for the books. (ABC’s Good Morning covered the story here.)

After Jacob arrived in the ER, doctors quickly recognized the symptoms and began treatment. Jacob completed 22 days of rehab at Orange Park Medical Center’s Inpatient Rehabilitation Center and made an exceptionally quick recovery.

“He improves every day. His positive attitude has everything to do with how quickly he has recovered,” said Dr. Vorbes Aleger, Medical Director at Orange Park Medical Center’s Inpatient Rehabilitation Center. “It’s a scary condition and Jacob has fought hard the entire way.”

One day before Newbern was set to go home he decided to celebrate his recovery in a big way, by proposing to his longtime girlfriend Mary Batar. During his last days of rehab, he worked vigorously to gain the ability to stand again. With great intentions, Jacob kept his victory of standing a secret from his then-girlfriend. When Mary came to visit one last time she opened his hospital room door to hear “In case you didn’t know” by country crooner Brett Young playing in the background and Jacob sitting in his wheelchair at the end of a flood of rose petals on the floor. With emotions running high, he stood from his chair – to her surprise – and popped the question.

A string of lights making a heart shape behind a table with flowers and desserts

“You’ve stuck by my side,” Jason said to Sandy. “I know you love me and I love you, alright. And I think it is time,” he continued as he stood. “Baby, so will you marry me?”

She said yes. The couple’s family and friends, along with Orange Park caregivers, cheered in celebration. Watch the moment on Facebook here.

“I couldn’t think of a better time to ask her to marry me than after we’ve been on this difficult journey. We have so much to be thankful for right now,” said Jacob.

A man in a wheelchair and his physical therapist giving thumbs up sign

Jacob poses with his physical therapist at Orange Park Medical

Jacob says he looks forward to getting home to spend Christmas with his new fiancé and their three small children, but he is sad to leave the family he’s made at Orange Park Medical Center.

GBS is a rare disorder that quickly attacks the nervous system that can be triggered by a bacterial or viral infection. Symptoms start as weakness and tingling in the feet and legs and spread to the upper body, ultimately leading to paralysis if untreated.

“Early intervention is important with this condition. Because Jacob sought care early and our team reacted quickly we were able to avoid intubation which is a typical outcome for patients with Guillain-Barre syndrome,” said Dr. Ronnie Bond, Neurologist at Orange Park Medical Center.

A male doctor and a male patient giving thumbs up sign

Jacob gives the thumbs up with Dr. Bond.

Jacob wants to share his story to spread awareness and help others catch the early symptoms of GBS.

Orange Park Medical Center is an affiliate of HCA Healthcare and a member of HCA Healthcare’s South Atlantic Division.

About HCA Healthcare

HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services, is comprised of 183 hospitals and more than 2,300 sites of care, in 20 states and the United Kingdom. Our more than 283,000 colleagues are connected by a single purpose — to give patients healthier tomorrows.

As an enterprise, we recognize the significant responsibility we have as a leading healthcare provider within each of the communities we serve, as well as the opportunity we have to improve the lives of the patients for whom we are entrusted to care. Through the compassion, knowledge and skill of our caregivers, and our ability to leverage our scale and innovative capabilities, HCA Healthcare is in a unique position to play a leading role in the transformation of care.

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