Woman forced to have hands and legs amputated after getting sepsis on holiday
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A woman will undergo a rare double hand transplant after losing her limbs to sepsis in 2017.
Kim Smith, 61, was on holiday in Spain when she woke one morning feeling unwell, with intense back pain, a fever and feeling like she ‘was going to die’.
She had contracted a urinary tract infection (UTI) during the holiday and after being rushed to hospital in Elda, Spain by her husband Steve, 64, she spent nine weeks in a coma.
She was diagnosed with sepsis before being put into the induced coma. Kim was flown home to England in a coma after six weeks and spent three more weeks unconscious in Milton Keynes Hospital.
When she woke up, surgeons told Kim her hands and legs would have to be amputated as they had gone black and completely died.
She was then taken to Bedford Hospital for the major surgery and spent over three months recovering before having rehabilitation treatment at Queen Mary’s Hospital in Roehampton.
Kim, from Walnut Tree, Milton Keynes, had to learn how to sit up and move again. “I could see that it was obvious that my limbs needed to be amputated,” she shared.
"When the doctor said it I just said ‘Yes that’s fine. Get it done!’ I knew enough to see they were useless and that nothing else could be done."
The former hairdresser is currently on the waiting list for a double hand transplant at Leeds General Infirmary, which has successfully performed 14 life-changing transplants since 2016.
She’s hoping to be able to cook, sew and do things for herself after the transplant.
Husband Steve, who was a vehicular collection and delivery driver before Kim's illness, is now her main carer. The couple tied the knot in 2004 and both have children from previous relationships.
She also has health assistants who help with showering, dressing and other personal care.
The preparation for a transplant includes ensuring Kim has immunity to a range of illnesses.
She is currently awaiting chicken pox vaccinations, which is the last step in her preparation before undergoing the surgery.
Kim had never heard of sepsis before she was taken ill, which is why she decided to post about her journey online.
Kim uses resources from The UK Sepsis Trust to share how there is no one symptom of sepsis and that it is absolutely vital to ask healthcare providers if it could be sepsis.
She added: “The doctors did an X-ray on me just two days before I was admitted, but as nothing was broken, they sent me away.
"The following day I was prescribed antibiotics but the pharmacy had no stock so we were told to come back the next day - that night I was rushed to the hospital.
“I had absolutely no idea what sepsis was or how serious it is. It’s absolutely vital everyone knows how devastating sepsis is and how it can kill people so quickly.
“I believe I was saved to use my voice and to share my shocking story to help save others' lives.
“I have an amazing husband & family who have helped me through without their love & support things would be very different I’m sure.”
The UK Sepsis Trust reports that five people die from sepsis every hour in the UK. Knowledge of the symptoms and early diagnoses can prevent deaths.
Symptoms can be hard to spot and may be similar to those of other conditions, such as flu or a chest infection.
You can find out more information about sepsis and see the full list of symptoms on the NHS website.