By Charlotte Nisbet
A flesh eating bug that ravaged a woman’s leg causing a fist sized hole has finally recovered.
Stacey Thomas, 30, was told by doctors that she was just hours from death after she admitted herself to hospital with a painful rash across her leg.
She had felt unwell for five days but as her symptoms worsened, Stacey’s life hung in the balance and her leg began to turn black.
The business development manager was diagnosed with necrotising fasciitis – a flesh-eating disease caused by an infection that attacks the body’s soft tissue.
Surgeons needed to cut away Stacey’s infected flesh and muscle to prevent a hip to toe amputation.
Thankfully they managed to save Stacey’s leg but she spent the next eight weeks plagued by constant infections and holes appearing in the limb as it tried to heal – with one being the size of an adults fist.
But after spending three months recovering from her ordeal, Stacey is now regaining the strength in her leg and is back in the gym.
Stacey, from Plymouth, said: “I went to hospital in agony with my leg as soon as I landed back from Germany, it was swollen and covered in a painful rash.
“I’d been on a short trip with work but it was only once I was at the airport returning home that my leg started to feel hot and painful.
“I had no idea what was happening but when it began turning black while in hospital I started to panic, you could see the flesh literally dying.
“I was sent for an emergency MRI scan as the infection was spreading from my knee cap to my groin but there wasn’t enough time to carry this out in the end and I had to be rushed into surgery”
“I had to sign a consent form to say I was happy for them to remove my leg if they needed to during a lifesaving operation but I was so unwell that I had no idea what it was for.
“I was in so much pain by this point that I was drifting in and out of consciousness.
“The amputation would have been my entire leg from my hip joint so when doctors explained how close I’d been to losing my life or limb, I was instantly relieved to see my leg still there.
“I had six surgeries in just two weeks in June last year on my leg as they tried to close the huge holes that had appeared across my leg together.
“On one occasion a doctor came in to check on my stitches when the wound exploded like a blood blister.
“It left a fist sized hole in my leg that he then put his hand into to feel inside.
“It was so gross and I could barely believe it was happening.
“Just as I thought it was healing, a new hole would appear.
“I was told I had caught a flesh eating infection but no one had any idea why or how it had started.
“I was just lucky to be alive and ever since I’ve been released from hospital, I have been back in the gym trying to regain the strength in my left leg.”
Stacey had been battling flu-like symptoms for the past few days before her diagnosis but she’d brushed them off as not being serious – – something she now knows could have cost her her life.
She added: “I didn’t feel very well but I was away with work in Germany and dosed up on paracetamol.
“I was freezing but when colleagues felt my skin it was boiling hot.
“I tried to brush it off as nothing but it wasn’t until I was on the flight home that my leg started to feel strange.
“I went to the toilet to have a look and I was shocked, it was painful, there was a rash and it looked swollen.
“What happened from there was a complete nightmare, I didn’t realise how seriously ill I was.
“I rang the out of doctors on 111 and they advised me to go straight to A&E.
“If I’d have left going to hospital any longer I would have died.”
Stacey does not know how her necrotising fasciitis started but it can be prevented by ensuring all wounds are kept clean and dry until they’re healed.
She added: “I have type 1 diabetes but it’s not thought to be linked to the flesh eating disease.
“I don’t even recall having a scratch on my leg or cutting it with a razor so I’m still unsure why it began.
“I was worried at first that it might come back as I have had a few pains in my leg.
“I’ve also had a few colds and flu-like infections since but doctors have said that’s normal.
“I hope my story highlights the importance of listening to your body.
“I’ve come away with a few scars on my leg but I nearly lost my life.”