EX-WALES PROP IN IN THE TOUGHEST FIGHT OF HIS LIFE
W HEN Paul Knight finally received the long-awaited honour of a senior Welsh cap it was the pinnacle of a bruising rugby career spent on the battlefield, putting his body on the line.
Little did the Pontypridd stalwart realise that just two years later, in 1995, he would be hanging up his boots to take on an even tougher fight.
Today, 22 years after his multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosis, the 57-year-old is wheelchair-bound.
Now at his lowest ebb, the old warrior is reduced to sitting in constant agony due to a bed sore caused by, he claims, NHS failings.
Knight, who played five times for Wales between 1990 and 1991, is suffering from a worsening pressure ulcer. He believes the pressure sore (or bed sore) could have been prevented if he had received treatment when it was first discovered by carers.
He relies on a wheelchair due to his MS and said the ulcer has reached “grade three”, meaning an open sore that can lead to infections and pose a “serious health risk”.
To assist with his MS, nurses and carers from the Cwm Taf University Health Board visit his adapted home in Treorchy and his adapted bungalow in Ystrad, which he moved to recently.
The married father of one said sitting in his wheelchair is now a “major problem” because of the anguish of coping with a pressure ulcer. He said early detection and treatment can make all the difference. Stage three bedsores only occur when stage-one and stagetwo bedsores do not receive effective or adequate medical care.
“It is a pressure sore and of course while sitting in my wheelchair all the pressure is on my backside,” he explained. “For many years I have faced the challenges of multiple sclerosis and I am dealing with that but this progressive pressure ulcer could have been prevented and I feel a sense of anger and disappointment about that.”
As a 20-year-old playing for Aberavon in 1980, Knight was drafted into the Welsh squad, and played for West Wales against the touring Australians in 1982. In 1987, he joined Pontypridd and established himself as the cornerstone of an effective forward unit and in 1990, the long-awaited honour of a senior Welsh cap came his way. He played against Namibia, twice, on tour, the Barbarians, England and Scotland before also representing the Barbarians against Argentina. In 1992 he left Pontypridd to join Treorchy, where illness forced him to end his playing career.
It was over a year ago that a carer discovered that a red patch on his skin was the start of a pressure ulcer. He said: “The nurses told me that they could see a scratch but that was it.”
He said over the coming months nurses treated the wound with plasters.
“As time went I could sense the ulcer getting worse because of the constant pain and discomfort I was feeling while sitting in my wheelchair,” he added.
Paul’s wife Jennifer said: “The pressure ulcer should never have got to this stage. The nurses who have cared for him since his recent move to Ystrad have been excellent and I cannot speak too highly of them.”
Last month, Paul was given an air mattress by the nurses to try to ease his condition.
“The air mattress is a help but I should have been given one a lot sooner,” he said. “My MS is an illness that wasn’t preventable but this pressure ulcer was.”
Cwm Taf University Health Board has said it does not comment on individual cases.
Paul Knight, pictured at home, is suffering with a pressure ulcer