A young woman was given only a 10 per cent chance of survival after contracting a rare flesh-eating disease – but now desperately needs funds for specialised equipment to keep her alive.
Ashleigh Rees, 22, from East Kilbride, Scotland is on the autism spectrum and has a range of medical issues including rheumatoid arthritis, bronchial asthma and type 1 diabetes.
However, she has recently overcome one of the biggest battles of her life during which her distraught parents, Fiona and Tommy, were told their daughter may not survive, the Daily Record reports.
A small wound on her thigh, which GPs initially believed had turned into an abscess and treated with powerful antibiotics, was actually necrotising fasciitis (NF) – a condition which has a 95% mortality rate.
To save Ashleigh’s life, surgeons had to remove 50 per cent of the infected tissue – including nerves – in her upper thigh, groin and hip area. In some cases it can be necessary to amputate affected limbs.
Following surgery, Ashleigh’s kidneys also failed due to multiple infections leaving her with virtually no immune system.
She spent eight days in intensive care in April and a total of six weeks in hospital but is now back home.
But she urgently needs a specialised riser/recliner chair which would allow her to escape the confines of her bedroom where she has effectively been a prisoner since returning home due to her wounds and mobility issues.
Tommy and Fiona, who have three other children aged between 17 and 24 – all of whom have additional support needs – have started a gofund me page in the hope of raising at least £2000 as South Lanarkshire Council and the NHS, the family say, are unable to fund the chair, which will have to be specifically tailored to Ashleigh’s needs.
Fiona told the East Kilbride News: “Ashleigh is a true fighter and that’s what has got her through.
“She has done everything asked of her but she has been unable to leave her bedroom since she came home and it’s really affecting her mental health. Ashleigh has been through so much and to help in her recovery further she needs to be able to get out of the one room.”
Tommy said: “The local authority and NHS have been brilliant in providing with equipment such as a wheelchair, crutches, assistance and medical equipment to help Ashliegh in her recovery but unfortunately they do not provide these chairs as they are made to measure and as it will be in the living room is classed as piece of furniture.
“But not only will it help Ashleigh in her recovery, it will help her be part of the family unit again and not isolated in her room and also give her the comfort to relax and try help in the pain management – even though there are no nerves in the wound itself the rest of her leg and groin have full sensation and like any trauma to your body it will and does hurt.
“It’s incredible that she has got through what she has but she has a lust for life and a love for all her family which has been they key.
“We have tried every avenue we could think of to get funding for the chair including grants and felt this was a last option.
“We are grateful to everyone who has supported us so far but I am hoping maybe a business or charitable organisation would offer us support.”
Necrotising fasciitis is rare in young people with only 30 cases in Scotland last year – it’s most common among the elderly.
However, mum Fiona said it was clear there was something seriously wrong when her daughter was rushed to hospital.
She said: “We had been back and forward to out-of-hours and our GPs, who are absolutely fantastic, and were given antibiotics as everyone thought we were dealing with an abscess.
“In fairness, when it comes to NF, most GPs simply don’t know how to diagnose it. But in the days before she had been more drowsy and lethargic than usual and then her brother shouted down that her lips were blue.
“I called an ambulance but we could have easily lost her as paramedics had great difficulty getting her out the house due to various issues. Her weight had ballooned – partly down to the undiagnosed kidney problems which were identified later in hospital.”
Fiona added: “I was hysterical and when Tommy and I were taken aside by the medics at the hospital and told our daughter was critically ill with this flesh-eating disease and how high the mortality rate is, it was our worst nightmare. I honestly don’t know how we got through and I was just numb.
Ashleigh said: “I want more than anything to get out of this bedroom and be part of the family properly again. This chair would make a big difference for us all.”
Val de Souza, executive director of the South Lanarkshire health and social care partnership, said: “Ashleigh and her family are currently being supported to ensure the best outcome in respect of her rehabilitation, support and management at home.
“We have previously provided equipment for Ashleigh and will continue to work with the family to ensure her needs continue to be met.”
To donate to Ashleigh’s fund, click here .
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