Sur­vivor Tom back at home

Wangaratta Chronicle - - Regional News -

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

PHOTO: Co­ral Cook­sley

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.

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