Flesh eating bug victim praises doctors

SUPERMARKET worker Donna Mallett is lucky to be alive today after becoming the second person in a matter of months at Ipswich Hospital to be saved from an horrific flesh eating bug.

SUPERMARKET worker Donna Mallett is lucky to be alive today after becoming the second person in a matter of months at Ipswich Hospital to be saved from an horrific flesh eating bug.

Miss Mallett has praised the expert doctors who saved her life after she contracted the nasty superbug, necrotizing fasciitis which attacked her arm and left her in so much pain she begged her mum to cut it off.

The bug is so rare that in 2003/2004 the Health Protection Agency recorded just 136 cases across the whole of the UK.

She was given just a 50 per cent chance of survival by doctors at Ipswich Hospital, but the 37-year-old miraculously pulled through thanks to the hospital's amazing staff, including skilled consultant plastic surgeon Hussain Abrar.


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Her story is made all the more remarkable because when she was admitted in September it was just over four months after Gavin Elliott, another victim of the extremely rare condition, was saved by experts at the same hospital when consultant David Rae spotted what was wrong.

Today Miss Mallett, of Sheldrake Drive, Ipswich, is fighting fit and looking forward to returning to work at Asda as soon as possible.

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She said: “It felt like I had a pulled muscle in my left arm and the pain was really bad. It is a pain you can't explain - so bad I asked my mum to cut off my arm.

“I remember being in Accident and Emergency and the next thing I know I had woken up in critical care.”

There the former Copleston High School student learned the killer bug had eaten away the bicep muscle of her left arm.

In a marathon three and a half hour operation, surgeons took muscles from her back and put them in her arm as well as taking skin grafts from her leg.

She remained in hospital for four weeks, undergoing intensive physiotherapy to help bring movement back to her arm, which is still not as flexible as before the drama.

But despite numerous tests medical staff still do not know why Miss Mallett contracted the bug which is caused by bacteria.

While she was in Saxmundham ward she read about the story of Mr Elliott who contracted the life-threatening bug in June and within just 24 hours had spread rapidly through his body - across his back and abdomen.

Mr Elliott, of Rosehill Road in Ipswich, recovered thanks to the care at Ipswich Hospital and has since nominated his doctor, consultant David Rae for the Stars of Suffolk Award.

Miss Mallett too praised the staff at the hospital for helping the save her life.

She said: “They were brilliant and all the staff were so friendly.

“At the beginning I was living hour to hour because my condition was so bad but they got me through.

“Everyone says I'm really brave but I just felt I had to get better.

“It does change your attitude to life when you nearly die because you realise it isn't worth worrying about small things.”

Has your life been saved by doctors at Ipswich Hospital? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

Necrotizing fasciitis

Commonly known as “flesh-eating disease”

The Health Protection Agency recorded just 136 cases in the UK in 2003 and 2004

The affected area is at first very painful without any grossly visible change but tissue can become swollen, often within hours

The skin may then appear as if it is bruised and blisters may form - with the patient becoming very ill and experiencing fever

Early medical treatment is crucial and surgical exploration is always necessary - often resulting in aggressive removal of infected tissue

Around 30pc of people who develop the disease die from it

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