Woman to undergo double transplant after losing hands and feet to sepsis

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Kim Smith

Kim Smith developed sepsis while on holiday in Spain (Image: SWNS)

A former hairdresser who lost her limbs after contracting sepsis is set to undergo a rare double hand transplant.

Kim Smith was holidaying in Spain with her husband Steve when she contracted a urinary tract infection (UTI).

After complaining of intense pain, she was taken to a hospital in Elda where she was diagnosed with sepsis and immediately put into a coma to save her life.

She spent six weeks in a coma at the Spanish hospital before she was flown home to England, where she was kept unconscious for an additional three weeks.

The 61-year-old from Walnut Tree, Milton Keynes, was told, after she woke up from the coma that her hands and legs were going to be amputated as they had “gone black and completely died.”

She underwent major surgery at Bedford Hospital and spent over three months recovering.

Kim was then taken to Queen Mary’s hospital, in Roehampton, London, for rehabilitation.

There, she had to learn how to sit up straight all over again.

Kim Smith

Kim in hospital (Image: SWNS)

Now she is set to undergo a rare double hand transplant surgery having lost all her limbs.

Explaining her ordeal, Kim said: “For almost six months, I was just in bed until I got to go to rehab. I didn’t know how to sit up as my muscles had just gone. It was horrible!

“I could see that it was obvious that my limbs needed to be amputated. When the doctor said it I just said ‘Yes that’s fine. Get it done!’

“I knew enough to see they were useless and that nothing else could be done.”

Kim’s amputation has hit her hard. The former hairdresser cannot work, and her husband, a former delivery driver, now cares for her.

But rare surgery offers her a glimmer of hope. Kim is on the waiting list for a double hand transplant at Leeds General Infirmary, which has successfully performed 14 life-changing transplants since 2016.

Kim and Steve

Kim and Steve on their wedding day (Image: SWNS)

She is currently awaiting chicken pox vaccinations, which is the last step in her preparation before undergoing the surgery.

The preparation for a transplant includes ensuring Kim has immunity to a range of illnesses.

After the transplant, Kim, the former hairdresser, hopes to be able to cook, sew and do everything for herself again, as well as spreading awareness about sepsis all over the country.

She hopes her experience in hospital will be pleasant too, as she has struggled in the past.

Kim says she has suffered abuse before.

She said: “Sadly at each hospital, there was always one bad nurse. The first physically abused me, the second was very rude to me for needing help and the last one refused to let me have privacy, which was really difficult to cope with.

“Because of my time in hospital, my mental health was at rock bottom. I’d learned all I needed to get on with my life so they let me go home after.”

Kim

Kim will undergo a rare double hand transplant (Image: SWNS)

Kim, who had never heard of sepsis before she was taken ill, now posts about her journey online, to raise awareness about sepsis and its potentially devastating effects.

She uses social media to share videos about her life now and how to spot potential signs of sepsis, which can mean the difference between life and death.

Kim uses resources from The UK Sepsis Trust to share how there is no one symptom of sepsis and that it is absolutely vital to ask healthcare providers if it could be sepsis.

She added: “The doctors did an X-ray on me just two days before I was admitted, but as nothing was broken, they sent me away.

“The following day I was prescribed antibiotics but the pharmacy had no stock so we were told to come back the next day – that night I was rushed to the hospital.

“I had absolutely no idea what sepsis was or how serious it is. It’s absolutely vital everyone knows how devastating sepsis is and how it can kill people so quickly.

“I believe I was saved to use my voice and to share my shocking story to help save others’ lives. I get an awful lot of people saying I’m an inspiration, I deserve an MBE or OBE or that they couldn’t cope with this, but you just have to get on with life.

“I have an amazing husband and family who have helped me through without their love and support things would be very different I’m sure.”

The couple both have children from previous relationships, who have all become extremely close, since the couple’s wedding in September 2004.

The UK Sepsis Trust reports that five people die from sepsis every hour in the UK.

However, they suggest that with knowledge of the symptoms and early diagnoses, preventable deaths from this condition can be stopped.

Sepsis symptoms

According to the NHS, you should phone 999 if:

  • The person is acting confused, slurred speech or not making sense.
  • Has blue, pale or blotchy skin, lips or tongue.
  • A rash that does not fade when you roll a glass over it.
  • Difficulty breathing, breathlessness or breathing very fast.



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