By Samantha Day • 30 March 2020 • 19:29
STEVE PALMER, 34, nicked the middle finger on his right hand while clearing debris which had swept into his garden from a river during the recent floods.
He thought nothing of it until the next morning when his finger appeared red and swollen.
Steve went to work with his father-in-law but was stunned when his hand ballooned in size and his arm had turned black.
He was rushed to hospital where doctors diagnosed him with necrotising fasciitis, a potentially fatal flesh-eating bacteria.
He was transferred to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham where surgeons operated to remove the dead and infected tissue from his arm.
A plastic surgeon was able to save his arm from being amputated and Steve is expected to take a year before making a full recovery.
Steve, who worked as an air conditioning engineer, has posted graphic pictures of his blackened arm on Facebook in a bid to warn others.
He said: “It was terrifying, it was like something from a horror movie. I could literally see my entire arm turning black.
“When the surgeon looked at my hand all the blood vessels in my knuckles had turned to mush.
“I just want to warn people to be careful and to wear gloves while gardening, particularly now that people will probably be spending more time in their gardens due to the coronavirus lockdown.”
Steve was gardening with his wife Laura, 34, at their home in Polesworth, near Tamworth, on March 7 when he cut his finger.
He said: “Me and my wife were in the garden tidying up.
“We live on the back of the River Anker which had flooded a couple of weeks earlier and messed the garden up a bit.
“We’d waited for the weather to get better so we could clean up.
“While I was clearing reeds which had been swept into the garden from the river I got a
little nick on my finger.
“I didn’t even notice it, I get little cuts all the time at work and just cracked on but there must have been all sorts of bacteria from the floods which got into the cut.
“The next morning I was meant to help my father-in-law do some cementing at his farm but when I looked at my middle finger it had swelled up and was red.
The next day Steve was taken to Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield, by his friend and was told to wait in A&E.
Steve, who is dad to three-year-old Jacob and seven-year-old Charlie, said: “The doctor said he thought it might be sepsis and cellulitis so put me on a saline drip overnight and gave me paracetamol because my temperature was very high.
“The next day I was transferred to hand specialists at the QE in Birmingham where a surgeon told me again he thought it was sepsis.
“I was taken down to surgery and was operated on for four-and-a-half hours.
“When I came round doctors told me they discovered it was necrotising fasciitis which is quite rare.
“The blood vessels under my knuckles were mush so the surgeons had to wash all of the infection away and pull down skin from my forearm onto the tendons before taking a skin graft from my leg onto my arm.
“I was very lucky and could easily have died. The surgeons saved my life and my arm.”
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