Jan McFadden was left with multiple amputations after surgery to reverse a colostomy led to a perforated bowel, sepsis and necrotising fasciitis.
Over the course of the next few days, a combination of hospital failures, including delays in diagnosis and ineffective antibiotic treatment, allowed the infection to overwhelm her body which began to shut down, causing multi-system organ failure, ischaemia and extensive peripheral vascular compromise. She developed gangrene in her hands and feet, eventually leading to the amputation of her left hand, fingers of the right hand, toes on the left foot and her entire lower right leg.
Following the settlement of her negligence claim, Jan has moved house and, with the help of her compensation, she has started taking further steps to restore some degree of normality in her life. Serious injury solicitor, Julie Marsh, recently visited Jan and her husband Martin to see how she was getting on.
Jan, what’s changed since your case concluded?
The biggest change has been at home. Martin and I moved from our home to a new property which has been especially adapted to meet some of my needs.
We now have a large shower room that I can use independently and safely, instead of having to struggle to use the bath.
Our new property is all on one level, and I do find it much easier now that I don’t have stairs to deal with.
I know you managed to get back to driving. Are you still enjoying it?
It is fantastic to be back driving. I recently changed my vehicle. It is adapted so that the accelerator is on the left side, and I have a special grip on the steering wheel to control the direction of the car. It means I can go out on my own, safely.
I used some of the compensation from the case to pay for a light weight mobility wheelchair which fits into the boot of the new car. I also decided to pay to have a special electric hoist installed in the boot of the car that will lift the scooter in and out of the vehicle so I don’t have to struggle to do so. I can simply press a button on the remote and the winch/hoist will lift the chair out and place it on the ground for me.
Having the car and the hoist has really given me back my freedom. Martin is more confident when I go out alone now, knowing that I am safe to drive and have the chair easily accessible if I need it.
I know you previously considered an upper limb prosthesis. Have you looked into this any further?
I have done some research into prosthetic silicone fingers to give me some grip which I lost, obviously, when my fingers were amputated. I’m hoping to order them shortly.
My next priority is an upper limb prosthesis. When the case first settled, I didn’t make any immediate decisions about an artificial arm as I wasn’t sure about what was best for me. I didn’t think that I would be able to have a microprocessor prosthetic limb or that I would be able to control one with the muscles that remain in my upper arm. I always thought that the only prosthetic provision available would be a silicone or cosmetic limb, which had no practical function.
Recently I have had the opportunity to try a prosthetic limb where I found that I can use the muscles in my upper arm to control a hand with a pincer grip, and it was a great success. I was really surprised at how quickly you can adapt your muscles to using one. I think it will really make a big difference to my life if I can have one to try out on a longer term basis.
At the moment I still have to rely on help from Martin to get dressed and to do some things in and around the kitchen. A new prosthetic arm would give me even more independence.
And what does the future hold?
I have just become a grandmother, so I’m spending a lot of time with my new grandchild.
I’ve also just come back from holiday – my first holiday in many years, because I wasn’t confident about going abroad with my disabilities. It was just too difficult and too expensive.
After the case concluded, I felt mentally and physically well enough to travel and I had money from the claim which meant I could afford to arrange disabled accommodation for the trip.
I’m not sure what the future holds but I feel better equipped to meet it now that the negligence case is concluded. It helps to know that there is some security for our future together.