‘I THOUGHT I HAD A COLD – NOW I HAVE LOST MY LIMBS’

Wales On Sunday - - NEWS - MAR­CUS HUGHES Re­porter mar­cus.hughes@waleson­line.co.uk

A DAD of three has been left with no feet and only part of one hand af­ter doctors had to per­form dras­tic surgery to save his life.

Chris Gar­lick, 46, had to have both his legs and one of his hands am­pu­tated af­ter sud­denly fall­ing ill with what he ini­tially thought was just a cold.

Only hours later Chris was left fight­ing for his life af­ter doctors found that he had con­tracted sep­sis, a con­di­tion which causes the body’s im­mune sys­tem to at­tack its own tis­sue and or­gans.

Mas­sage ther­a­pist Chris, whose chil­dren are aged 10, eight and five, de­scribed his grat­i­tude to the med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als who saved his life, and his wife Kar­ran, who, he says, has had to “hold the fort” while he’s been in hospi­tal.

Chris said: “To watch what my wife has gone through; I’m just so grate­ful. It was prob­a­bly the worst you are ever go­ing to get. She would watch as my lev­els would drop and she would be told I was go­ing to die. But she’s such an amaz­ingly strong per­son.”

He added: “I’m look­ing for­ward to the fu­ture be­cause I did man­age to sur­vive sep­sis. I have sur­vived and I have got things to do. I’m go­ing to be a fa­ther and a hus­band again.”

On Satur­day, July 15, Chris, who runs a chi­ro­prac­tic clinic in Cardiff along­side Kar­ran, be­gan com­plain­ing of cold and flu-like symp­toms.

By Sun­day he felt so un­well he was con­fined to his bed at home.

“On Sun­day morn­ing I was feel­ing re­ally rough,” Chris said. “We were go­ing to take the kids swim­ming but I said I just couldn’t man­age it. So Kar­ran put a film on for the chil­dren.”

Kar­ran, 41, re­turned to the bed­room a while later and found he was run­ning a high tem­per­a­ture, but he was so weak he was un­able to get into the bath to cool off.

Chris said: “I couldn’t walk straight and the pain in my head was un­bear­able, and that’s the last thing I re­mem­ber.”

Kar­ran had re­cently started a train­ing course with a view to re­turn­ing to nurs­ing and recog­nised some of Chris’ symp­toms.

She tele­phoned NHS Di­rect and af­ter al­low­ing the op­er­a­tor to hear Chris’ laboured breath­ing down the line, an am­bu­lance was im­me­di­ately dis­patched to their home.

Chris was taken to the in­ten­sive care unit at the Royal Gwent Hospi­tal in New­port, where he was placed on as­sisted breath­ing ap­pa­ra­tus and given a blan­ket course of an­tibi­otics.

Kar­ran said: “At four o’clock he was talk­ing to me, and by six o’clock he was near death; lit­er­ally. For four days they told me he was go­ing to die, so they were pre­par­ing me for the worst.”

Dur­ing the first night, Chris had to be re­sus­ci­tated. His con­di­tion even­tu­ally sta­bilised, but he re­mained in a coma for a fur­ther fort­night.

Kar­ran said doctors dis­cov­ered Chris had been in­fected by meningo­coc­cal bac­te­ria, which led to the sep­tic re­ac­tion.

Sep­sis is a life-threat­en­ing con­di­tion that arises when the body’s re­sponse to in­fec­tion causes in­jury to its own tis­sues and or­gans. It is most com­monly caused by bac­te­rial in­fec­tion.

“His lungs had stopped work­ing, his heart wasn’t work­ing too well and his clot­ting wasn’t work­ing, so he was bleed­ing ev­ery­where,” Kar­ran said.

“Be­cause his blood pres­sure was so low, what your body nat­u­rally does is try to main­tain your vi­tal or­gans. This means your ex­trem­i­ties don’t have enough blood run­ning to them.”

She added: “They were talk­ing about am­pu­ta­tions prob­a­bly a week into his ill­ness.”

A build up of dead tis­sue, known as necrotic tis­sue, around Chris’ limbs was found to be caus­ing strain on his body.

Chris was vis­ited by a sur­gi­cal con­sul­tant, who broke the news to the cou­ple that he would have to am­pu­tate be­low the knee on both legs.

Kar­ran said: “I re­mem­ber he said to me ‘please don’t let them take my legs’, be­cause he loved walk­ing on the beach and he was wor­ried that he would never feel the sand un­der his feet again.”

On Au­gust 30, the day of his daugh­ter’s 10th birth­day, Chris went into surgery to have his legs am­pu­tated, as well as his left arm above the wrist but be­low the el­bow at Mor­ris­ton Hospi­tal in Swansea. Sur­geons were able to save the palm of his right

Chris in in­ten­sive care at the Royal Gwent Hospi­tal in New­port and, right, seven weeks af­ter his am­pu­ta­tions

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