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Dad forced to get arm amputated after slightly grazing knuckles working on car

A dad-of-five has opened up about how he was forced to have his whole arm amputated after he slightly grazed his knuckles while working on his car.

Stephen Rae, 40, from Cumbernauld, was working on his motor when he injured his right hand in May 2017, report the Daily Record.

He dismissed his cut as minor, but it soon started scabbing over, and he shockingly went on to develop a deadly type of sepsis.

The month following the accident, the dad woke up to discover his right arm blown up like a balloon. He was then admitted to the hospital on an IV drip to treat the swollen arm from blood poisoning.

Ten days later, the die-hard Celtic fan was released from Hairmyres Hospital, but ended up being readmitted just weeks later after the infection returned in his limb.

In December of that year, the 40-year-old mistook his symptoms for a bad flu when his right elbow began to swell up.

He went to hospital but passed out in the A&E waiting room before waking up in the ICU on life support.

What happened to be a cyst in his elbow had burst, causing an infection to attack multiple organs as the sepsis took a hold of his body.

After several other hospital admissions and brushes with death, medics decided to remove all the tissue from his forearm in January 2020. They then later went on to remove his elbow joint.

But in May this year, doctors at Wishaw General discovered that cells at the bone fusion site had turned necrotic meaning his best chance of survival was to have his entire limb cut off.

Recalling a heartbreaking phone call to his wife Kelly, Stephen said: “I nearly died three times. It’s normally three strikes and you’re out so I am quite lucky.

“I was faced with never seeing my kids and wife again or having my arm amputated. There’s just no comparison so I told the doctors to take it off.

“I called Kelly to tell her and I could barely speak because I had a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. She was the same. But it wasn’t really a difficult decision to make because the alternative doesn’t bare thinking about.

“I’m hand-handed so it’s been a massive adjustment. It’s like my whole world has come crashing down. There’s so many hurdles that I’ve got to face.

“The amount of care that I need is unreal. I can’t even put on a pair of socks myself. It means that my wife has had to pick up all the slack. It’s the little things that I can’t help with that I find the most challenging – like the hoovering or the dishes.

“Having your arm taken off also really affects your balance. My wife has been left to do everything for me and the kids – we’d be lost without her. She’s an absolute angel.”

Sepsis and reoccurring infections in his right harm almost cost Stephen his life.

He said: “You think the sepsis is away and then it comes straight back. It’s scary how quickly it creeps up.

“This all started from me scraping my knuckles while working on the car. I didn’t think anything of it and just cleaned the cut as you normally would do.

“Then a few weeks later I woke up and my right forearm and hand were severely swollen.

“I went straight to Hairmyres Hospital who admitted me and put me on IV antibiotics for 10 days. They put it down to septicemia (sepsis) and sent me home.

“But then in October, it came back on my forearm. I was taken to hospital again for another seven days of IV antibiotics before being discharged.

“A few days before Christmas, there must have been a cyst inside my elbow and it burst. I was getting hot and cold sweats so I thought it was the flu.

“Then my elbow began to swell up. It took me three hours to put a hospital bag together. It felt like someone was sitting on my shoulders.

“I went to the A&E hospital and woke up the next day in the ICU. I’d lost consciousness sitting in the waiting room. I was hooked up to all these machines that were keeping me alive.

“They told me I was lucky I went up when I did because if I’d stayed at home, I’d be dead. When the cyst burst, an infection had gone right through my system and it was shutting my organs down one by one.”

Stephen was placed in a medically induced coma in January 2020 after suffering another infection.

He explained: “My wife noticed I was off colour. I went down to Monklands hospital in a taxi and the driver had to help me walk in.

“I was sitting in the waiting room and then I remember lying on my side on the floor. There were doctors and nurses running towards me.

“The next thing I know, I’m waking up in Wishaw hospital two weeks later after being in an induced coma.

“They had removed my right forearm.

“I spent another week in the ICU before being sent to a ward for the next eight days and transferred to the Glasgow Royal Infirmary for skin grafts. They were absolutely brilliant in there.”

In a last ditch attempt to remove the infection, Stephen’s elbow joint was removed with the upper and lower arm bones fused together with metal pins.

He spent six months with a metal cage around the affected limb but continued to be blighted by infections with his arm finally being amputated almost one year later on May 25, 2022.

Stephen is now fundraising to generate enough cash to buy a prosthetic limb to help him get back to being a doting dad.

He said: “It would mean the absolute world to me to get a prosthetic as I could get back to being a hands-on dad rather than feeling like I’m watching from the sidelines.

“There are a lot of things that I can’t do now. A fairly decent prosthetic wouldn’t sort it out completely but it would definitely help a lot.”