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Amputee Hopes His Rehabilitation Battle Inspires Others To Get Their Lives Back On Track

Welshman Moves Into Adapted Bungalow As He Seeks To Move On With Life


A keen sportsman and businessman whose life spiralled out of control after he was forced to have his leg amputated due to an infection following a knee operation is hoping his inspirational recovery battle will help other amputees going through similar ordeals.

Wyn Jenkins, of Salem in Carmarthenshire, has been fit and healthy all his life and enjoyed an active lifestyle playing rugby, cycling, walking and running. However, the former PE teacher’s life was turned upside down when he suffered an infection following surgery to remove a loose fragment of bone in his knee at the Neville Hall Hospital in Abergavenny on 20 September 2007.

The infection left the 63-year-old in extreme pain and discomfort and he endured three further operations to help alleviate the symptoms, followed by intensive physiotherapy and hydrotherapy. However, by February 2008 the infection returned and he was rushed back to hospital and his leg was eventually amputated above the knee in March 2008.

Wyn has since instructed Irwin Mitchell who has secured him a substantial settlement from the Aneurin Bevan Local Health Board in Wales. The Trust accepted he would not have suffered the infection in his knee, which ultimately led to the amputation, if he had been given antibiotics before the operation in September 2007.

Anna Stacey, an expert clinical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell who is representing him, said the settlement has allowed Wyn to buy a home, which can be adapted to meet his needs in future. The settlement will cover the pain, suffering and financial difficulties he has been through and will also allow him to buy specialist prosthetic legs to improve his quality of life.

She said: "Wyn has always been such an active man, having been a PE teacher and playing professional rugby in Australia, as well as a host of other sporting hobbies.

"Sadly, he suffered months of unnecessary agony following the infection in his knee because he wasn’t given antibiotics before the procedure. The infection led to him needing his leg amputating, which had a massive impact on his personal life and his ability to run his businesses, which before the operation were thriving.

"We are relieved the Trust has accepted Wyn’s infection could have been avoided and hope valuable lessons have been learnt from his case so other people don’t have to go through similar ordeals.

"The settlement will allow Wyn and Margaret to move into a specially adapted bungalow which is more suitable for Wyn’s needs so they can finally get their lives back on track."

Wyn, a dad-of-two and a granddad-of-eight, first started to suffer from problems in 1974 after tearing a meniscus in his right knee while playing for the Canterbury Bankstown Rugby League Club in Australia, where he had emigrated with his family. The club’s orthopaedic surgeon operated on his knee and he made a good recovery and was able to carry on playing until he retired from the sport in 1982.

Wyn was then diagnosed with suffering from early onset osteoarthritis in the mid-1980s and by 1990 the pain was so bad he was referred to the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport, where he underwent various routine and major operations between 1992 and 2003.

His knee joint was eventually replaced in 16 June 2005 but the surgery caused his knee to lock. Further tests and scans showed a loose piece of bone in his knee, which required another operation on 20 September 2007. Following the operation he developed an infection in his knee.

Despite two further operations and intensive physiotherapy his leg could not be saved and it was amputated above the knee in March 2008.

Wyn said: “After the amputation and with the infection removed I immediately felt well again and can only describe my feelings as being euphoric. Looking back this seems strange but I think my feelings were triggered by having made the difficult decision to have the operation and then going through with it. There was no going back and I was determined to get on with my life.

"My initial time in "walking school" went well and I seemed to be coping really well with my physical loss. However, as time went on, I realised that life would never be the same again. Because of seven months of serious illness after contracting the first infection, our restaurant business was already under pressure and the amputation forced us into looking for buyers to take the business on.

"Unfortunately, this coincided with the financial crash that effectively put a block on business loans and investment, preventing a number of interested parties from buying the business. Reluctantly, we made the difficult decision to close the doors and to see whether I could concentrate on keeping my coffee supply business going.

"This had a massive effect on the whole family as we were well into a shared project to renovate an old woollen mill that we were converting into three homes for my son and daughter and their families. To save us further worry, my children made the brave decision to give up the project and with it their homes - we were in an incredibly difficult and vulnerable position and seeing the children turn their lives upside down in order to protect Marg and I from further worry and stress was particularly emotional."

Wyn continued to struggle to access the necessary rehabilitation he needed, especially the specialist prosthetic ‘sockets’ to ensure his prosthetic leg fit properly. He spent months without a prosthetic leg which led to a period of depression.

In desperation he turned to the Douglas Bader Foundation, a charitable organisation which helps people who have lost limbs. He also received help from Ian Massey, the head prosthetist at Rookwood Hospital in Cardiff, who Wyn credits with changing his life. He also turned to Irwin Mitchell so he could get the answers he deserved from the Trust.

Wyn, who is now an ambassador for the charity, added: “Having worked hard all my life, suddenly having nothing to focus on made every day seem empty, especially during the first year when my sockets were so badly made and I was left without a prosthetic leg. Life was at a standstill and I felt disabled and useless.

"I began looking on the internet to find out more about living with limb loss and was relieved when I came across the Douglas Bader Foundation. I learnt that the best people to help you through the first difficult years after amputation were amputees.

"I was also fortunate that Ian Massey, the prosthetics manager at Rookwood Hospital, agreed to take on my care - he literally transformed my life. I went from having sockets that were painful and unusable to ones that enabled me to make my prosthesis work effectively. He upgraded me to a better knee and foot combination and adapted my original walking leg so I could use it for cycling.

"He not only gave me the technology to improve my life but he also gave me back my self respect. I was also able to walk again and cycling opened up a new part of my life which is so satisfying. I’ve even been able to climb Mount Kilimanjaro a couple of years ago, although a chest infection stopped me reaching the summit.

"I just hope that my experience ensures lessons are learnt so no one else has to go through what I have. I also hope what I’ve been through shows other amputees that there is light at the end of the tunnel and they can, with the right support, overcome what might at first seem like impossible challenges. Thanks to support from Irwin Mitchell I’m also now looking forward to moving into a new home which will help me regain my independence."

For more information about the Douglas Bader Foundation visit: www.douglasbaderfoundation.com/

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