Survivor Tom back at home
RECOVERED from a deadly infection that has only a 60 per cent survival rate, Beechworth Bakery founder Tom O’Toole is happy to be home and back on his feet after spending five weeks in three hospitals.
His return to good health meant the 66 year-old, awarded an Order of Australia in June, was able to receive the medal at an investiture ceremony held at Government House in Melbourne this week.
The infection - picked up in his lower left leg through a scratch when working in the garden - started a gruesome ordeal that began in Port Hedland, Western Australia where he was giving a motivational talk.
Returning home three weeks ago, Mr O’Toole said he felt better than ever and was glad that his wife Christine could be with him all the way.
She had immediately dashed from Beechworth to be by his side after he had taken himself to Port Hedland hospital where doctors discovered the infection called necrotizing fasciitis that
kills the body’s soft tissue.He was rushed from there to Royal Perth Hospital by the Royal Flying Doctor Service for specialist emergency treatment.With the risk of losing his life or his leg, Mr O’Toole said medical staff had acted quickly.Reconstruction of his leg began after a huge section of his lower limb had been stripped by the flesh-eating bacteria.Surgeries with six skin grafts followed with a wound vacuum system used in the recovery process.“They call the vacuum a miracle machine,” Mr O’Toole said.“A 125-pound pressure vacuum tube was stuck into dead tissue that made the muscle and tissue grow from the inside out.”Wanting to return to Victoria, Mr O’Toole said he transferred to the Northern Hospital in Epping where the treatment continued.Back to leading a normal life, Mr O’Toole said he could travel around Australia, but overseas plans had to be curtailed for the time being.BACK TO GOOD HEALTH: Beechworth Bakery founder Tom O’Toole OAM, is happy to be back home.