Dad nearly killed by deadly flesh-eating bug caught while gardening

A dad-of-two narrowly avoided dying after catching a rare flesh-eating bug in his garden which turned his blood vessels into mush.

Steve Palmer, 34, caught the flesh-eating disease while clearing debris at his home in Birmingham.

While sweeping away reeds that had flown onto his property from a nearby river, Steve nicked the middle finger on his right hand but thought nothing of it.

The next morning, Steve noticed his finger appeared red and swollen but still went to work with his father-in-law.

Later that day, he noticed a throbbing sensation in his hand and was left stunned when it ballooned and his arm turned black.

Steve's family rushed him to hospital where doctors diagnosed him necrotising fasciitis which is a potentially fatal flesh-eating condition caused by deadly bacteria.

The dad-of-two was immediately transferred to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham where surgeons operated to remove the dead and infected tissue from his arm.

He said: “It was terrifying, it was like something from a horror movie.

"I could literally see my entire arm turning black.

“When the surgeon looked at my hand all the blood vessels in my knuckles had turned to mush.

“I just want to warn people to be careful and to wear gloves while gardening, particularly now that people will probably be spending more time in their gardens due to the coronavirus lockdown."

Steve, a dad to three-year-old Jacob and seven-year-old Charlie, said he thought it "might be sepsis and cellulitis," but the reality was much worse.

He said: “I was taken down to surgery and was operated on for four-and-a-half hours.

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“When I came round doctors told me that they discovered it was actually necrotising fasciitis which is quite rare.

“The blood vessels under my knuckles were mush so the surgeons had to wash all of the infection away and pull down skin from my forearm onto the tendons before taking a skin graft from my leg onto my arm."

Thankfully, a plastic surgeon was able to save Steve's arm from being amputated and he is expected to make a full recovery.

Steve said: “I was very lucky and could easily have died. The surgeons saved my life and my arm.

“I’m back home but I’ve been told it’ll take 10 to 12 months before I can hold tools again.

"I’ve got 2% use of my hand at the moment. It’s going to be a long long journey back to recovery.

"I just want to warn everyone now to wear gloves in the garden.

“It was a tiny cut I had on my hand but it was enough to let the bacteria in which almost killed me."

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