A British tourist just had a common infection while on holiday in Spain, but she lost all of her limbs.
She was told she had six hours to live after a medical emergency during her Alicante Province visit five years ago and is now awaiting to undergo a rare surgery.
Kim Smith lost all of her limbs after she contracted sepsis following a common urinary tract infection in Spain in 2017.
The 61-year-old is now on the waiting list to undergo a rare double hand transplant surgery, which she said would ‘make her life better again’.
“I’ve stayed strong and positive for so long, it’s been the only way,” she told the Olive Press.
“I’ve just gotten on with my life and now I’m getting a double hand transplant, I’ll be able to drive again and do more things – life will get better again.”
Smith and her husband Steve escaped the cold in Milton Keynes for the gentle winter sun of the Alicante area in November 2017.
They had plans to spend Christmas there, but one day while they were walking around the historic centre of Sax she felt a pang of pain suddenly in her lower back.
She said her first thought was that it could be a urine infection and went to Elda Hospital.
Limited with her knowledge of Spanish, she pointed towards her back and said, ‘pain here’.
“In hindsight I should have said I had an infection because they just x-rayed my back and sent me away and told me I had no breaks or fractures,” Smith said.
The next day on November 28 she saw a doctor in Sax where she explained, this time through Google Translate, that she suspected she had a urine infection.
Her urine was tested and showed she had an infection, and was prescribed a course of antibiotics.
She had to wait until the next day to pick up the medication as the pharmacy had run out of stock.
But Smith never had a chance to return.
“The next morning I woke up at 4am in so much pain I felt like I was going to die,” she said.
“I begged my husband to take me to hospital and after doctors saw me they actually handed my clothes to my husband and told him I only had six hours to live.”
Smith was put in an induced coma, which lasted nine weeks.
She was flown back to England after six weeks, before spending three more weeks unconscious in Milton Keynes Hospital.
When Smith finally woke up surgeons told her that her hands and legs would need to be amputated as they had “gone black and completely died”.
She was taken to Bedford Hospital for the major surgery and spent three months in recovery.
“For six months I was just in bed, I couldn’t move,” Smith told the Olive Press.
“I had to learn how to sit up and use my muscles again. It was awful.”
She is currently on the waiting list for a double hand transplant at Leeds General Infirmary, the only hospital in the United Kingdom that can perform the surgery.
The former hairdresser said she missed her hands most of all, and looked forward to cooking, sewing and driving again after the operation.
Smith was also using her experience to be a voice for others who had also been impacted by sepsis.
“Everyone always tells me I’m so strong and positive and so I encourage those people to be the same – It’s the only way to get through.”
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