Dad loses all his limbs Picture: GoFundMe
Dad loses all his limbs Picture: GoFundMe

Dad loses limbs to flesh-eating bug

ON CHRISTMAS Day, Mick was cooking lunch and assembling his kids' new toys. Two days later he was on life support with his organs shutting down.

Mick O'Dowd was a fit, healthy 45-year-old dad to Amelia, six, and Thomas, three. He was into camping, cooking, diving and building things.

But late last year, he complained of having sore muscles, which prompted him to see a physio.

Mick with daughter Amelia. Picture: GoFundMe
Mick with daughter Amelia. Picture: GoFundMe

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The pain got so bad that on Christmas night Mick went to Canterbury Hospital's Emergency Department. The diagnosis was sciatica, or nerve pain, and he was sent him home with anti-inflammatories.

But the cause of the pain was far more sinister than his family could have known.

By Boxing Day he had low blood pressure and a high temperature and returned to hospital. He was diagnosed with a Step A infection in his leg; a flesh eating bacteria. Usually the bacteria results in a sore throat but it had somehow entered Mick's bloodstream.

Mick was placed on life support as his organs shut down. And tragically, amputations were necessary in order to save Mick's life. Sepsis, or toxic shock, had led to multiple organ failure.

Mick in intensive care on a ventilator. Picture: GoFundMe
Mick in intensive care on a ventilator. Picture: GoFundMe

Lower legs and arms amputated

Throughout the entire ordeal Mick's wife Katharine never left his side.

"Due to the infection, sepsis and strong blood pressure support medication, his hands and feet had died, and a few weeks ago Mick's lower legs and arms were amputated," Katharine told Yahoo7 News.

"He has had several subsequent surgeries and his right leg is now amputated above the knee, left leg still below the knee but still under review.

"All the muscle from his right gluteal has been removed and he still is facing complex muscle transfer surgery to cover and close his hip. Then he will need extensive skin grafts all over his legs,'' she said.

There were several times when Mick's family said their goodbyes, but his strength and resilience have surprised doctors.

Mick with his son Thomas before the infection took hold. Picture: GoFundMe
Mick with his son Thomas before the infection took hold. Picture: GoFundMe

Still hope...

It's impossible to even imagine how tough life will be without his hands and feet. But family friends have started a GoFundMe to ask for help in getting prosthesis made so Mick can return to work and continue to raise his kids.

"It is encouraging that the position of Mick's arm amputations mean that he should be able to manage well on prosthetics,''a family friend wrote on GoFundMe. "The rehab doctors have also explained that hand prosthetics are now vastly improved.''

"The cost of myoelectric hand prosthetics is in the order of $150,000 per prosthetic. This type of prosthetic will enable Mick to return to meaningful work and continue to be the involved father he has always been to Amelia and Thomas.''

Mick O’Dowd’s family are fundraising to help cover the cost of his prosthetics. Picture: GoFundMe
Mick O’Dowd’s family are fundraising to help cover the cost of his prosthetics. Picture: GoFundMe

"Amelia and Thomas are young enough to adjust to their new life and, with time, their memory of what happened to their dad may fade. ''

When Mick has been able to communicate with his family he's spoken about losing his ability to dive - one of his great passions, but many from the diving community have assured the family that he'll have no shortage of dive buddies to help him get back in the water.

$104,395 of a $300,000 goal has been reached on GoFundMe.

This article originally appeared on Kidspot and was reproduced with permission