I've had the skin on my testicles and bum removed after flesh-eating bug nearly killed me | The Sun
22nd January 2023

WHEN Ash noticed a small boil at the bottom of his back, he thought he might just have an ingrown hair.

Around 10 years ago, the 46-year-old noticed an abscess in the same area, so assumed the two were connected.


After going to the doctors on March 22 last year, the dad-of-two from Leeds was given antibiotics and told to call back if there were any issues.

But, on the morning of March 23, Ash said his perineum felt solid and he experienced a lot of pain in his testicles.

He called his doctor who asked him to come into the surgery right away.

Just hours after that visit, Ash was told he had just a 40 per cent chance of survival after necrotising fasciitis left him fighting for his life.

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Now, several months after his ordeal, Ash has had the skin on his testicles and bum removed and also has had a stoma bag fitted.

Speaking to The Sun, the dad said that "it didn’t even click" that something had been wrong with him until after the event.

Once he arrived at the hospital, medics took his vitals and told him he had a high heart rate.

He then asked doctors if they wanted to take a look at the boil that had formed on his lower back.

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He said: “A young doctor then came back into the room with five other people who all had their coats on as they were about to leave for the day.

“I told them that it could wait until the morning and that it would surely be ok.

“But they told me I might want to call my wife as my condition had just a 40 per cent mortality rate.

“I didn’t want to stress her out so I just told her they were checking out the area where I had previously had an abscess.”

During the operation, medics feared they might have to put Ash in a coma, so made a second call to his wife.

“It was a slightly different story to what I had told her,” Ash said.

“In my haste I hadn’t even told her what hospital I was in.”

The surgery involved removing the flesh-eating bacteria that had been causing Ash problems.

“The first thing they told me when I came round was that they had saved my legs,” he said.

He added: “I have had all my skin removed from my testicles, right buttock and perineum, I found myself in extreme pain.”

Ash, who had previously helped set up the Covid taskforce said he was also put into a ‘vacuum pack’.

“A few days later a vacuum pack dressing was fitted, this was to help all the skin I’d had removed from that area heal.

“They vacuum sealed me and fixed me up with a vacuum that was always on,” he added. 

What is necrotising fasciitis and what are the symptoms?

The NHS states that Necrotising fasciitis is a flesh-eating disease.

Guidance states that it’s a rare infection that can happen if a wound gets infected and needs to be treated in hospital straight away.

The first signs of the illness are:

  1. intense pain or loss of feeling near to a cut or wound – the pain may seem much worse than you would usually expect from a cut or wound
  2. swelling of the skin around the affected area
  3. flu-like symptoms, such as a high temperature, headache and tiredness

Later symptoms may include:

  1. being sick (vomiting) and diarrhoea
  2. confusion
  3. black, purple or grey blotches and blisters on the skin (these may be less obvious on black or brown skin)

You should go to A&E if you have a cut or which is more painful than expected.

The NHS states you also need emergency care if you have a cut or wound and get symptoms like a high temperature, headache, tiredness and muscle aches.

If you have sudden confusion or if you have black, purple or grey blotches or blisters near a cut or wound you should go to A&E or call 999.

“This remained on for approximately eight weeks, as I did within the hospital, this vacuum dressing was changed every two days and took approximately two hours each time, I can only describe this experience as removing duct tape from open flesh wounds.”

Just two days later, Ash also had to have another operation to have a stoma fitted.

After being in hospital for over eight weeks, Ash was finally released on May 13.

A stoma nurse regularly visited, along with a team, to help him change his dressings.

Ash has praised the level of care he received from the NHS teams treating him.

Specialists finally told him that his skin had healed enough for his stoma to be reversed just before Christmas and Ash had the op on December 9.

“I was with the NHS for around five days before being discharged. Now I see a local GP on a weekly basis and can change the dressings myself.

“At the moment though I do have a hole the size of a golf ball, I can see all of my piping inside, but my wife can’t look at it,” he said.

Now, Ash will spend another 12 weeks recovering but says this "doesn’t phase him at all".

He added: “It’s been a tough year, I would do 12/14 hour days and went from that to doing nothing, having 12/14 sleep and still having a two hour nap during the day, it’s a lot to get my head around.

NHS PRAISE

“It’s more now that I look back and since I’ve been Googling things that I realise what could have happened.

“Throughout the whole journey I have been met with nothing but professionalism and kindness from many NHS workers, I owe my life to many key NHS employees together with my mental wellbeing from all that have and continue to assist in my recovery,” he said.

Despite still being in recovery, Ash is already thinking about going back to work due to the financial strain the illness has put on his family.

Ash took out a policy with Vitality insurance, to cover his income in the event of serious illness stopping him from working.

But, he discovered he is not covered for necrotising fasciitis, because it wasn't included in the £503-a-month plan, he says.

Since his ordeal, Ash has had to sell a car gifted to him by his late father, as well as the family’s car.

“We’ve had to cut down on everything, switching packages with things like Sky, it’s like a lot of people at the moment.

“We are currently living off the income replacement and savings which will be disappearing soon,” he added.

Due to the financial position Ash has found himself he is seeking legal action against Vitality.

Ash is hoping for 100 per cent recovery in the new year, but says realistically, it’s more likely to be March time.

He is now, however, concerned how his family will manage for the next few months.

“The income replacement only covers around 60 per cent of outgoings.

“We’ve reduced all outgoings and extended our mortgage term, my credit rating is also damaged and I’ve had to buy a hospital bed for my home.” he added.

Ash added that the same plan which is now on offer from Vitality, would cover him for necrosis fasciitis, and would have been cheaper than the sum he had been paying each month.

In a statement to The Sun, Vitality said: “We are very sorry to hear of Ash’s illness and we wish him all the best with his recovery.

“Our Serious Illness Cover (SIC) provides financial support when you are diagnosed with a range of defined health conditions. 

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“The health conditions included within a plan are outlined prior to sale, and additionally detailed within the policy terms and conditions. Unfortunately Ash’s policy does not include necrotising fasciitis and as such he is not covered under his SIC plan.”

In order to help pay for his bills and living costs, Ash has launched a GoFundMe page and hopes to raise £5,000 to help with living costs.


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