Baby Joy For Former Policeman Who Lost Hand And Both Legs To Killer Infection

Survivor Speaks Out For Sepsis Awareness Month As He Gets Life Back On Track


Kate Rawlings, Press Officer | 0114 274 4238

A former police officer who lost both legs, eight fingers and parts of his nose as a result of septicaemia, has beaten the odds to become a dad for the first time.

Dean Smahon is speaking out as part of Sepsis Awareness Month, this September, about the life changing blood infection, which began with flu like symptoms but left him with a 10% chance of survival.

The 54-year-old, who has overcome countless hurdles, is now facing the ultimate challenge of becoming a parent after revealing his wife Kirsty, 36, is due to give birth in February.

Specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell investigated his care and Dean’s expert legal team has now secured him a Judgement against Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust, after it admitted that staff had missed opportunities to treat his infection sooner.

Medics missed the “golden hour” to treat Dean’s sepsis and his body began shutting down its extremities in a bid to protect the vital organs. He needed 30 operations over two years to recover but has had to have both legs and one of his hands amputated.

Dean’s lawyers are now trying to secure an award for damages which will provide him with appropriate prosthetics so he can live as independently as possible, and have suitable accommodation, rehabilitation and the care he requires for the rest of his life.

Thanks to the rehabilitation he has received so far, Dean and Kirsty were able to go through IVF treatment.

He said:  “I never dreamed we’d be able to have a baby, that I’d be able to hold my own child or even have a new prosthetic hand which will enable me to can change its nappies.  Our lives have changed so much and now I have the support I need to care for my child. ”

The ordeal began for Dean, who left the police force in Northern Ireland and moved to Leeds, West Yorkshire where he began DJing, when he fell ill in October 2010, just seven weeks into his relationship with Kirsty.

He was rushed to LGI and placed in an induced coma after his symptoms of pain in his hip, fever and shakes worsened and his body fell into septic shock.

Miraculously Dean, who represented Northern Ireland in javelin as a teenager, pulled through and three months later, was released from hospital.

Over the next two years he underwent 30 operations which saw both legs amputated below the knee, as well as his right hand and three fingers on his left hand.

Dean, who also needed a hip replacement and parts of his nose and right ear removing, fell into a dark depression as he struggled to adapt.

“I was active, I liked to keep fit, I had pride in how I looked, I’d met a girl I really liked and all of a sudden I had to cope with losing my legs, hand and bits of my face,” said Dean, who was awarded the Queen’s medal for gallantry for his work in N.I.

 “I’d lost my dignity and self-worth. Kirsty left her teaching job to care for me.  It was a very dark period and felt as though life wasn’t worth living.”

Over time Dean adapted to his new life and three years ago, using prosthetics, managed to walk down the aisle to marry Kirsty in a fairy-tale wedding.

In 2015 Irwin Mitchell secured Dean an interim payment which allowed him to buy better prosthetics, an adapted car, rent a bungalow, purchase home gym equipment and obtain rehabilitation therapy.

Dean, who has been supported by his local church, is now due to complete a degree in Theology this year, and hopes to become a voluntary priest.

He volunteers at the intensive care unit at LGI and even flew to Cambodia to help landmine victims.

Dean said: “I’d never imagined I would have been able to do any of the things I’ve done now. I couldn’t have done it without Kirsty.

“Now I’ve got my independence back, I can be the strong one for her. I can drive her to hospital appointments and walk to the kitchen to get her a glass of water if she feels sick.

“I hope that my story will help prevent others suffering the way I have.”

Expert Opinion
Dean and Kirsty are a truly inspirational couple who have overcome challenges which would have left many people wanting to give up.

Not diagnosing and treating Dean’s infection that led to sepsis, early enough changed his life forever and although nothing can turn back the clock, the award of damages he will receive means he will be able to afford suitable and different prosthetics throughout his life and the on-going rehabilitation he will need as his remaining joints become over used, so he can be as active as possible and help in the bringing up of his new baby.

It’s important that lessons are learned from this sepsis case to improve the diagnosis and treatment of others in future.

Through our close work with The UK Sepsis Trust we have seen the urgent need to promote the signs of sepsis and provide early care in the UK and hope that this awareness campaign will help save thousands of lives and improve the outlook for all of those affected.
Sarah Coles, Partner

Every year in the UK there are over 150,000 cases of sepsis, with 44,000 of these resulting in deaths.

Dean’s sepsis was caused by a Group A streptococcal bacteria, a common cause of infections spread by coughs, sneezes, or direct contact.

If caught early, sepsis is easily treated.

Find out more about sepsis.