Stowmarket nurse saves explorer

STOWMARKET nurse turned Arctic explorer, Fizzy Lillingston has saved the life of the man who wants to become the first person to walk to all four North Poles.

STOWMARKET nurse turned Arctic explorer, Fizzy Lillingston has saved the life of the man who wants to become the first person to walk to all four North Poles.

Mrs Lillingston who is a practice nurse at Combs Ford surgery spotted that amateur explorer Jim McNeill had contracted a rare flesh eating disease in his leg.

The 44-year-old nurse took up the challenge of a lifetime to embark on the first stage of the expedition to the North Pole.

She had taken up the role of medical officer and had gone on the trek to raise money for Cancer Research UK.

Quick-thinking Mrs Lillingston raised the alarm when 42-year-old Mr McNeill developed a blister on his ankle which became infected and then rapidly swelled up.

He had just been about to embark on a 685 mile trek unaided in pursuit of the Arctic Pole, otherwise known as the 'Pole of Inaccessibility.'

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Mr McNeill was just hours away from setting out from the base camp in the Canadian Artic when Mrs Lillingston spotted the flesh eating condition known as Necrotizing Fasciitis, despite the fact she had never previously encountered it.

She said: "I had read about the condition and the symptoms seemed to tally with Jim's infection which had swollen up like a balloon.

"I strongly advised Jim to attend the local medical centre in Resolute for a second opinion. Staff there, after consulting with the doctor in Iqaluit, decided that an aggressive treatment of antibiotics administered intravenously was necessary as there was a strong possibility of Necrotizing Fasciitis."

Necrotizing Fasciitis, an infection which "eats away" at the flesh, leaves the sufferer with flu-like symptoms and can quickly prove fatal if left untreated.

She said: "The far north of Canada has experienced a number of similar cases recently. Mortality rate is 30 per cent. Fortunately, Jim is making a steady recovery."

Mr McNeill, a fireman at Windsor Castle and experienced amateur explorer, is now recovering.

The setback means Jim's attempt on the Arctic Pole will probably have to wait until December, as anticipated melting of ice over the coming weeks will make his journey far too risky.


A bacterial infection commonly caused by group A Strep bacteria.

Usually killed by antibiotics sometimes a very strong variety occurs which can cause life-threatening cases and is known as flesh-eating bacteria. It can also be caused by a mixture of bacteria.

It destroys soft tissue and is often coupled with toxic shock syndrome – both are deadly.

Most often the bacteria enters the body through an opening in the skin – as small as a paper cut or pin prick.

Can also enter through weakened skin like a bruise or a blister.

Symptoms can include pain around the area and flu-like symptoms and an intense thirst.

Within around three days the area of body experiencing pain may begin to swell and may show a purplish rash.

A blister filled with a black fluid may appear and the wound may appear bluish, white or with a dark mottled, flaky appearance.

Eventually if not caught, the body will begin to go into toxic shock from the toxins the bacteria is giving off and death can occur.

Information source: National Necrotizing Fasciitis Foundation