Wed. May 31st, 2023


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‘I caught horror flesh-eating bug – now even tiny cuts could expose my organs’

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  • A once-fit cross country runner who caught a flesh-eating bug while being treated for sepsis in hospital has been left permanently disfigured and needing a wheelchair to survive.

    Emma Doherty, 37, caught life-threatening infection Necotising Fasciitis while in hospital in February 2021.

    Necrotising fasciitis is a rare and life-threatening infection that can happen if a wound gets infected.

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    It infects the soft tissue below the skin, particularly the fascia. It is most common on the legs but can affect any part of the body.

    A distraught Emma was given a less-than 1% chance of survival and doctors told her mum to consider turning off her life support machine.


    But somehow she pulled through despite the odds – although the horrific infection took a terrible toll on her body.

    She said: “It affected 85% of my body. The infection was moving through my body [so fast] the only way to stop it was to cut the [affected tissue] away.”

    Emma had the tendons removed from her left wrist, and was left with severe nerve damage in the arm.

    Extensive skin grafts mean the majority of her stomach covered in skin just 2mm thick.

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    She lives in constant fear that even the slightest cut or injury could leave her internal organs exposed.

    But despite this, she feels lucky to be alive after doctors told her mum she should turn off the life support machine while she was in a coma.

    Her mum Marie Keane said: “I was shown pictures of her intestines and organs.

    "On the third day it was like a sickly green film and i asked what it was and they said it was the infection creeping up, and if it hit her major organs there's nothing they could do.

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    "They put me under so much pressure to turn off the life support, but something in me kept telling me she’s still there, and there was no way I was letting her go.”

    Two years on from her diagnosis, she is getting one 30-minute physiotherapy session a week, which she says is not enough as she didn’t get the intense rehab she was promised.

    Now she is trying to raise £20,000 to buy a lightweight wheelchair, a hoist and ramp for the car, an anti stumble electronic prosthetic leg, hydrotherapy and private physio.

    To donate to Emma's new equipment, visit her GoFundMe page here.

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