Retired plumber Len Read with the scarred leg caused by a flesh-eating bacteria. He was initially left with just bone and muscle, and now has a skin graft that covers it. I
Retired plumber Len Read with the scarred leg caused by a flesh-eating bacteria. He was initially left with just bone and muscle, and now has a skin graft that covers it. I

Nick almost costs man his leg

DURING his working life as a plumber Len Read, of Casino, had to do some pretty dirty jobs.

It wasn't until he retired, however, that he was struck with a flesh eating bacteria that nearly cost him his leg and his life.

“You can imagine some of the jobs that I had to mix and deal with,” he said. “But nothing like what happened to me nearly four years ago ever happened while I was working.”

At the end of 2006 Len and his partner, then living in Hamilton, Victoria, had gone to a caravan park 60km away for the weekend.

“It was just a place to relax for the weekend, near a lake,” he said.

“Although I never went in the lake at all.

“The closest I got to water was when I had a shower.”

Mr Read said he had got a nick on his leg the size of a pinhead from when he had been mowing the grass a few days before the weekend away.

“On the Sunday we were away I got quite ill,” he said.

“My right leg started swelling and a discolouration spread across it.”

Mr Read was rushed to Hamilton Hospital where the specialist Dr Tung had him sent to the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne.

“Dr Tung debrided (cut out bad flesh) my leg between the knee and ankle,” he said.

“Then I was put into a hyperbaric chamber where they flooded my body with oxygen.”

It was this treatment that Mr Read believes helped save his leg.

“They have since taken a skin graft from my left leg between the knee and thigh and put it on my right leg that was just bone and muscle,” he said.

“It's not nice to look at, but I am just pleased to still have it.”

Mr Read warns anyone who may have a small scratch to keep it clean.

“Get some Betadine on it,” he said.

“Look after yourself, especially as you get older.”



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