Charity Worker Supported By Medical Negligence Lawyers Shares Story As He Backs Major Awareness Campaign
A granddad who had a leg amputated after developing gangrene has revealed the life-changing impact of his injury as he supports a major awareness campaign.
James Devlin, of Pellon, Halifax, underwent a below the knee amputation of his left leg around three months after a wardrobe dropped on his left big toe.
James sent home from hospital with painkillers
After the initial incident James, 63, visited Calderdale Royal Hospital and was sent home with painkillers. Over the following six weeks he attended hospital a further three times complaining of increased pain.
After his toes started turning black he was diagnosed with gangrene and reduced blood flow to his lower left leg. Days after, doctors amputated the dad-of-three and granddad-of-two’s left leg.
Medical negligence lawyers asked to investigate West Yorkshire man's care
Following his amputation James instructed expert medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate and help him access the specialist support and therapies he requires.
James, a former member of Halifax Harriers running club and marathon runner, has now spoken for the first time about how his life has changed and how he’s more reliant on wife, Jeanette, 59. He is joining his legal team in supporting Limb Loss and Limb Difference Awareness Month.
Following initial legal submissions, Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Calderdale Royal Hospital, denied liability for James’ amputation. Investigations are continuing.
Expert Opinion“Through our work we sadly see many people who have had their lives turned upside down by losing a limb and who struggle to cope with the impact it has on their everyday life.
“The past few years and coming to terms with what happened has been incredibly difficult for not only James but also his family. Despite this James continues to show bravery to try and not be defined by his condition.
“While nothing can make up for what’s happened, we’re determined to support James and his family by ensuring he has access to the specialist care and therapies he needs to continue his recovery and live as independently as possible.
“In the meantime Limb Loss and Limb Difference Awareness Month is an important campaign to highlight not only how people can be affected by such issues but also recognise help and support is available.” Rebecca Pearey
Limb loss: James Devlin's story
James visited A&E on 14 February, 2020, five weeks after injuring his toe. He was sent home with painkillers. Over the coming weeks he visited hospital twice more. He attended A&E again on 29 March, 2020, and was admitted to hospital.
He was told his left toes had turned gangrenous. A CT scan confirmed reduced blood flow to his lower left leg. He underwent surgery to amputate part of his leg on 6 April, 2020. Examinations found he had a blood clot behind his left knee.
James spent four days in hospital before returning home. He initially needed a wheelchair to get around.
He had to take several months off from his job as a charity collection and delivery driver. While he has returned to work, he is now part-time, and desk bound. James has a prosthetic leg but still struggles to walk because of ongoing pain caused by the prosthesis, so still uses a wheelchair as well.
James reveals life-changing impact of injury
James said: “Before all this I was extremely active. I’d played football and ran all my life and would often have weekends away cycling. Sport and exercise meant so much to me and I also got a lot out of helping train others. Me and Jeanette loved going away on holiday and would get away as often as we could. However, that’s all completely gone.
“It’s sometimes difficult to find the words to describe how my life has changed. It’s not just the physical injuries which have been hard to come to terms with but also the psychological impact.
“I’m a lot more reliant on Jeanette and the rest of the family. While I now have a prosthetic limb which means I can get about a little more there are days where I’m in severe pain while my body gets used to it. It’s not too bad indoors but outside I can only walk a couple of hundred yards as the pain gets too much. I’m also accident prone when outside as the terrain can be different. I can’t walk on grass, as although it looks even, it’s often not and the slightest bump or change in the surface can mean I fall.
“I can’t look after the grandkids by myself because they’re at an age where they’re so full of energy and want to run about that I can’t keep up with them.
“Work have been brilliant with me. Returning to work has given me a boost but it’s still difficult as rather than being out and about meeting people, I’m at a desk putting donated items online for sale. The work is still rewarding as it’s for charity, but I miss the face-to-face interaction I used to have.
James supporting Limb Loss and Limb Difference Awareness Month
“Despite everything I’m determined not to be defined by my disability and live as a full a life as I can.
“I’m focused on my recovery and setting myself little goals. It’s likely to be some way off yet but things like getting back on a bike or helping out more with the grandkids would mean so much to me.
“I just hope that by speaking out others in a similar situation don’t feel they have to go through it alone. There is a lot of support out there.”
Limb Loss and Limb Difference Awareness Months runs throughout April and aims to highlight the impact of such conditions and how those affected are rebuilding their independence. The charity Steel Bones supports amputees and their families. More information is available on its website.
Find out more about our expertise in supporting people affected by limb loss, whether through care issues or following an accident, at our dedicated amputation claims section. Alternatively to speak to an expert contact us or call 0370 1500 100.