Former Arsenal academy player left tetraplegic and needs 24-hour care after drink ‘spiked’ on night out

Exclusive: Daniel Cain, 23, now uses a wheelchair and is fighting to get his life back after the devastating incident

Thomas Kingsley
Sunday 30 April 2023 10:27 BST
Former Arsenal academy player left tetraplegic and needs 24-hour care after drink ‘spiked’.mp4

A former Arsenal academy player was left a tetraplegic after his drink was “spiked” on a night out.

Daniel Cain was a fit and healthy footballer and a qualified electrician but after a night out with friends, the 23-year-old was hit by a “life-changing travesty” as a cardiac arrest starved his brain of oxygen.

On the night out on 9 June 2020, Daniel’s friends noticed he looked a “funny colour” and was not waking up so attempted to perform CPR on him while the ambulance was called.

Daniel is a qualified engineer and has worked on Google Offices in Germany and Crossrail

When the ambulance arrived they worked for 24 minutes before getting his heart beating again, but his brain and spinal cord were starved of oxygen causing serious injuries.

“When I found out I just went into automatic mum mode,” his mother Tracey Cain told The Independent. “I phoned his father who was at work and his sister came back from Essex. At around 3-4am in the morning they tried to prepare us that he was not going to wake up but I said to keep trying.

She added: “I wasn’t going to accept he wasn’t going to come around.”

Ms Cain said: “He was with a lot of people and there was a lot of that going on that night. We think he was spiked.”

Doctors told the family that even if Daniel did wake up he’d be in a vegetative state, but after spending 25 days in a coma he defied the odds and “woke up” and gradually his cognitive function began to return in what his mother described as a “miracle”.

“When he woke up he couldn’t do anything, he couldn’t move - he was like a newborn but nurses said he was following them with his eyes, so they said there was ‘someone in there,’” Ms Cain said.

Mr Cain was in a coma for 25 days with fears he would not wake up

His short-term memory was significantly damaged by his injuries but his long-term memory was still intact his mother said.

“He’s gradually coming back and is improving all the time,” Ms Cain said. “His long-term memory, things from childhood, he still remembers all that.”

After two-and-a-half years “bouncing around” different hospitals and care homes, he was eventually able to come home but now uses a wheelchair and needs around-the-clock care.

“Again because I’m his mum, I’m just going to take it on board and do what I can, but it was a real strain,” she said. “Because of Covid I wasn’t really allowed into the hospital to learn from the nurses about different things like lifting and handling and with spinal cord injuries, there are things like bowel and bladder management and the skin is also very sensitive.

“It was just a complete lifestyle change.”

An Arsenal shirt signed by the men’s first team gifted to Mr Cain wishing him a good recovery

After more than a year’s wait, Daniel’s family was moved to a suitable home but had to go from a three-bed to a two-bed home meaning his sister Natalie had to move out.

Daniel has now been given the opportunity to walk and stand again through an organisation called Neurokinex, which provides him with intensive rehabilitation therapy. It is only part-funded by the NHS and costs more than £60 an hour, totaling between £1,008 to £2,016 per month.

Daniel’s family has launched a GoFund Me campaign to help pay for the treatment, which has given the former footballer hope again.

“It’s been very hard for him, on different neurological wards he’s been around stroke victims who are mainly over 50 so there were not many people his age he could relate to,” Ms Cain said.

Daniel’s family said his rehabilitation is his ‘happy place’

“He did have counselling where they said he does have PTSD and he has now been diagnosed with low mood, depression and anxiety. He’ll jump at the slightest thing, he needs a lot of reassurance. He needs to know what’s happening now and what’s happening next.”

Tracey added: “He responds really well to the physio - that’s like his happy place when he’s exercising. It’s more frustrating when he isn’t able to do it.”

Daniel is eagerly pursuing regular rehabilitation sessions to restart his life and begin a career. The sessions are set to last a minimum of two to three years and extend beyond that but at a cost of £12,096 to £24,192 per year.

“Your donation will make a world of difference to Daniel for the rest of his life and can be made through this GoFundMe page for any amount. Even £1 will help towards Daniels' recovery,” Daniel’s sister Natalie wrote.

To donate to Daniel’s campaign, click here

This article was amended on April 24 2023 to include Daniel’s mum’s view that his drink had been spiked.

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