Mum-Of-One’s Life Has ‘Changed Dramatically’ Following Surgery
A woman who had her legs and most of her fingers amputated after contracting sepsis has spoken out on how she is determined to remain positive and ‘live a full life’ despite the challenges she faces.
Stephanie Harrop, of Greetland, Halifax, fell ill in April 2019. Her condition worsened and she was taken to Bradford Royal Infirmary, where she was diagnosed with sepsis.
Stephanie, 64, was unconscious for around a week-and-a-half. When she woke, her feet and hands were black. The mum-of-one subsequently underwent operations to amputate her legs and all but one of her fingers. She was in hospital for seven months.
Following the surgery, Stephanie instructed medical negligence experts at Irwin Mitchell to investigate her care under both a GP surgery and Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Bradford Royal Infirmary.
Stephanie, who has been forced to give up her job as a mental health community support worker, is now joining her legal team in marking Limb Loss and Limb Difference Awareness Month by speaking out on how she is progressing with her recovery.
Expert Opinion“The past two years have been incredibly difficult for Stephanie, firstly contracting sepsis and then having to undergo amputation surgery.
Through our work, we sadly see many people who have had their world turned upside down by illness and are struggling to cope with the impact it has on their everyday life. Stephanie has been through a terrible ordeal but has shown such bravery and courage as she attempts to come to terms with everything.
While we can’t change what’s happened to Stephanie, we’re determined to support her by ensuring she has access to the specialist care and therapies she needs to continue her recovery and make the most out of life.
Limb Loss and Limb Difference Awareness Month is important to highlight the help and support available to people affected by this.”
Rachelle Mahapatra - Partner
Stephanie began to feel unwell on 1 April, 2019, complaining of back pain, wheeziness and nausea. Her condition worsened and she telephoned her GP surgery the following day.
She saw a nurse practitioner that afternoon, by which time she was vomiting. She said she was told she had a virus and no treatment was given. However, she was concerned her symptoms indicated pleurisy, which she had suffered from in the past.
By the next day, Stephanie was still unwell. During a phone consultation Stephanie complained of sickness and breathlessness as well as being hot and clammy.
A GP prescribed anti-sickness tablets. Later that day she collapsed and was taken to Bradford Royal Infirmary’s A&E department by ambulance.
Stephanie was transferred to the intensive care unit for investigation and underwent a series of tests including a CT scan, blood tests and chest x-rays. She was diagnosed with sepsis – when the body attacks itself in response to an infection - and given antibiotics.
She was subsequently diagnosed with pneumonia, respiratory failure and kidney failure, for which she needed dialysis.
On 25 June, 2019, Stephanie underwent an operation to amputate both of her legs below the knee. On 5 September, she had all the fingers on her right hand amputated, as well as all but one digit on her left hand.
Following the surgery, Stephanie was referred for rehabilitation and physiotherapy. She has since had further operations to help regain some of the function in her remaining finger, as well as plastic surgery. She also uses prosthetic limbs.
However, she remains reliant on help from her partner, Robert, 55, and 35-year-old daughter, Jo, as well as carers which Stephanie is currently having to pay for.
Stephanie said: “My life is completely different to two years ago and it has taken a long time for me to get to where I am today.
“I spent seven months in a hospital bed 24/7 which was really difficult. Since coming out of hospital, I have had the benefit of a care regime, as well as therapies and rehabilitation to help me get back some of my independence. I have also had some house modifications, including a stair lift and wet room, and an electric wheelchair so I can go to the toilet unassisted.
“I’ve had a lot of surgery to help improve my hand function, which I’m hopeful will continue to get better over time as currently I have to rely on others for a lot of everyday tasks including walking my terrier.
“I have to pay towards my care, which has a big impact on my life financially. I also can’t socialise or go the gym, which I really enjoyed before falling ill.
“My lifestyle has changed dramatically and some days I still struggle to come to terms with what’s happened. But I know that nothing can change what I’ve been through, so I’m determined to be as positive as I can and live a full life.
“I just hope that by speaking out others in a similar situation can try to be positive and don’t feel they have to go through it alone. There is a lot of support out there.”