EX-WALES PROP IN IN THE TOUGH­EST FIGHT OF HIS LIFE

Wales On Sunday - - NEWS - DAVE ED­WARDS news­desk@waleson­line.co.uk

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

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