A MUM was just minutes away from having her arm amputated after she was attacked by a flesh-eating bug.
Kate Dawson today told how she is still fighting to recover from the virus which almost killed her.
The 32-year-old faced having her arm removed in order to stop the virus spreading and consuming the rest of her body.
But, despite signing an amputation agreement, the mum-of-four was told at the last minute that surgeons were going to try and “dig out” the bug in a final attempt to save her limb.
Kate, of Downhill, said: “I just thought to myself, I can’t die, I’ve children who need me.”
Kate first noticed something was wrong when the knuckle on her left hand began to swell. The following morning, she woke up to find her entire body was aching.
“I automatically thought I had the flu,” said Kate. “But my knuckle had swollen up to the size of a Yorkshire pudding.
“I took some painkillers and just hoped it would go down. But, by that night, I was in agony and I phoned my mum and told her I couldn’t put up with the pain anymore and needed to go to hospital.”
By this time, the virus had spread to Kate’s arm and was beginning to make its way up, causing the skin the badly blister.
Tests revealed the mum was suffering from Nacrotising Fascitis, the same flesh-eating condition currently affecting Wearside toddler, Frankie Mould.
Kate said: “The doctors said that if I hadn’t made the decision to come to hospital that night my children would have found me dead in the bedroom the next day.
“They decided to put me into a self-induced coma so they could begin work and prevent the bug from attacking my organs. They then did all they could to dig out the virus.”
Kate was left with considerable damage to her left arm and was referred to plastic surgeon specialists at the University Hospital of Durham.
“They ended up taking skin from one of my legs and grafting it onto my arm,” said Kate. “It took three weeks of work and I was on a lot of morphine so often didn’t really understand what was happening to me.”
Despite saving her arm, the virus took its toll on Kate who has spent the past year recovering from the surgery.
“It not only affects you physically, but mentally too but I know I’m lucky to be alive.”
Kate decided to tell her story after hearing about 19-month-old Frankie Mould who is currently in Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary recovering from surgery to remove the virus. Frankie had skin removed from his back, chest and one leg after he was diagnosed with the same condition.
Kate said: “I just wanted to let Frankie’s family know that you can come through this. I also wanted other people to know this is a very real condition that people should know and educate themselves about.”