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 yesterday.
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 Ser- vice for specialist emergency treatment.
With the risk of losing his life or his leg, the 66 year- old said medical staff had acted quickly.
“The doctors were hot off the mark,” he said.
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.
A grateful Mr O’Toole praised the work of doctors and nursing staff and said he believes Australia’s health care system to be just about the best in the world.
BACK TO GOOD HEALTH: Beechworth Bakery founder Tom O’Toole OAM, is happy to be back home with wife Christine after fighting a deadly infection in his left leg.