A TODDLER is today in a coma after a flesh-eating bug forced surgeons to remove most of his skin.
Frankie Mould remains in intensive care after the unprecedented nine-hour operation to save his life.
The infection rapidly spread across the 18-month-old’s body in just a few hours, killing off tissue on his back, sides, chest and left leg.
A team of surgeons was forced to remove all the affected skin, while Frankie’s terrified family were warned to prepare themselves for the worst.
Worried mum Lucy Dove said doctors had described her son as “the sickest boy in the country”. The 25-year-old added: “They said they’d never seen anything like it before. That night, we sat beside Frankie’s bedside and told him that if he wanted to go, he could.”
But the Hylton Castle tot refused to be beaten and fought on until doctors decided to take skin from his right leg and graft it back on to the rest of his damaged body.
“Now it is a waiting game,” said Lucy, also mum to Kayne.
“They are treating Frankie like they would a severe burns victim, and are going to try and wake him up from the induced coma to see what will happen.”
The family first became concerned after Frankie started feeling unwell on Monday, April 8.
Taking him to Sunderland Royal Hospital’s A&E department, Lucy noticed a lump developing on her son’s back.
After raising the alarm, a decision was made to transfer Frankie to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary the next day, where a team of plastic surgeons met the ambulance as it arrived.
Lucy and Frankie’s dad, Wayne Mould, 25, were then taken aside by specialists.
“They told us he had contracted a bug known as Strep A and that it had somehow got in through into his skin,” said Lucy.
“That had then started an infection known as Nacrotising Fascitis, which translated means death of the tissue.
“We were told the operation would involve removing all of Frankie’s skin, right down to the muscle, that would be the only way to get rid of the virus.
“They said it was a one in a million chance that it developed the way it did.
“My legs just gave way and I was having panic attack after panic attack.
“We asked if we could go in and see him but when I walked in the room the only part of him I recognised was his beautiful blonde, curly hair.”
By some miracle, Frankie survived the operation.
By Monday of this week, he was back in theatre having the operation to graft skin back onto his body.
“There were so many times when we though we were going to lose him, but he’s just never given up; he’s fought on and on,” said Lucy.
“He loves the Gruffalo book and we’ve been playing it to him on audio tape and he’s been moving his little hands when it’s on.”
Family describe Frankie as a “typical little boy” who loves “cars, dinosaurs and lions”.
“We’re just so proud of how he is doing. The doctors told us last week he was the sickest little boy in the country. Now we are just waiting for him to get better.”