MUM Kelly Simmons lies in a hospital bed as she fights off a horrific flesh-eating disease.
The 29-year-old’s body has been ravaged by the bug that has eaten away huge chunks of her stomach.
Kelly, of Hendon, went into Sunderland Royal Hospital last month to have an operation on a hernia that should have seen her return home within 48 hours.
But what should have been a simple operation has turned into a nightmare and she now faces months in intensive care as she battles back to health.
Gary Carter, Kelly’s former partner and dad to her children, said: “Kelly’s been really ill.
He added: “It was spreading so quickly and Kelly was in so much pain, it’s been just awful to watch her going through it all.”
A doctor has diagnosed the mum with the worst case of pyoderma gangrenosum he has seen.
She has been put on medication to help clear it up but has been told she may have to remain in hospital for up to two months.
Medics are also carrying out a series of tests as they fear there may be a build up of bacteria around her heart.
If this proves to be the case, mum-of-four Kelly may need to have an operation to replace one of her heart valves.
Gary said. “Her heart rate has been up to 140, her temperature up in the 40s and she’s barely eating. It’s horrific.
“She’s battling on but she wants to get home and is really missing the boys.”
Gary added: “It’s a disgrace. It took nearly four weeks for us to get any answers and it was only last week that a specialist was called in to see what it was.”
This is the second time that Kelly has battled a form of flesh eating bug.
In 2009, she was rushed into hospital to have an emergency Caesarean after going into labour at 28 weeks.
But overnight her wound burst open and the next day she returned to hospital in agony.
She was told she had contracted necrotising fasciitis - another rare flesh eating bacteria - and was kept in intensive care for five weeks.
Kelly, who was in the Echo earlier this year after losing her second set of twins at 23 weeks, was left with a scar on her abdomen, which shattered the former model’s confidence.
Gary said: “It’s taken her a long time to get her confidence back and now this happens and it’s a lot worse than it was before. She’s devastated.
“I’d say this time the flesh eating disease is 20 times worse and it’s heart-breaking.”
Gary is considering taking legal action against the hospital and is in talks with his solicitor.
A Sunderland Royal Hospital spokesman said: “We can confirm that Kelly is a patient at the trust but are unable to provide further specific details of her care.”