(Image: Alex Donaldson)

During a holiday visit to Spain in November last year, Alex Donaldson, a 46-year-old hairdresser from Prescot, experienced a seemingly minor accident that quickly escalated into a life-threatening situation. While saying goodbye to friends, she accidentally scraped her arm against a wall. Initially dismissing the injury as trivial, Alex soon found herself in a dire medical emergency upon her return home.

The day after her return on Monday, November 13, Alex noticed alarming changes in her arm, which had begun to swell and became increasingly painful and warm to the touch. Concerned by these symptoms, she sought medical attention at the emergency department, where she was diagnosed with an infection and sent home with a prescription for antibiotics.

However, Alex’s condition took a turn for the worse in the following days. By Wednesday night, as she was preparing for bed, she observed that the redness on her arm had spread significantly. Recounting her ordeal to the ECHO, Alex described how her condition rapidly deteriorated, leading to delirium and an urgent return to the hospital. There, medical staff conducted swift diagnostics and revealed that she was suffering from necrotizing fasciitis, a severe bacterial infection often referred to as a “flesh-eating disease.”

Necrotizing fasciitis, typically caused by bacteria such as Strep A, can lead to devastating consequences if not promptly addressed. Alex, who had been recovering from a chest infection treated with antibiotics before her trip, underwent emergency surgery to prevent the spread of the infection. The urgency of her situation was underscored by the decision to proceed with surgery immediately, without waiting for a staff changeover, emphasizing that every second was crucial.

The battle against the infection was grueling, requiring Alex to endure four additional surgeries to remove the infected tissue. Her condition became so critical that she was placed on life support, and her family was summoned to bid their farewells, highlighting the severity of her condition.

Alex’s harrowing experience sheds light on the aggressive nature of necrotizing fasciitis, which boasts a survival rate of only 30%. She emphasizes the importance of vigilance regarding seemingly minor injuries, as what may appear as an innocuous cut or scratch can rapidly evolve into a lethal threat. Urging others to seek immediate medical attention for any signs of infection, Alex’s story serves as a stark reminder of the potential dangers lurking behind everyday injuries.

Now, Alex is dedicated to raising awareness about necrotizing fasciitis through her work with the Lee Spark NF Foundation. The foundation aims to educate the public on the rapid progression of this bacterial infection and the critical importance of early detection and treatment. Alex’s ordeal and subsequent advocacy underscore the need for heightened awareness and prompt medical intervention to combat this “silent killer.”

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