A tiny cut on Melbourne RSL worker’s arm caused a flesh-eating disease that put her in a coma
A mother of two nearly died after developing a fatal flesh-eating disease after a fall at work.
Catering worker Amanda Stacey slipped in the kitchen of an RSL club in Melbourne last September, sustaining a small cut on her right forearm.
The mother, from Burnside, covered the cut with a Band-Aid and continued to work, more concerned about her bruised right arm.
But she was eventually rushed to hospital after developing necrotizing fasciitis – a rare bacterial infection – where she was in a coma for 10 days before waking up with a tube down her throat.
Former hospitality worker Amanda Stacey (pictured, with her 11-year-old daughter) slipped and fell while on duty at an RSL kitchen in Melbourne when she cut her forearm
The mother of two (pictured, with family wearing a stocking on her arm covering the wound) was rushed to hospital after developing necrotizing fasciitis
‘I couldn’t talk, see or walk properly. I had to have surgery to have the flesh removed. I was in hospital for weeks,” said Mrs Stacey
“I was cleaning at the time and I just slipped,” Ms Stacey shared Nine news.
“I bumped my arms on the couch on the way down and my bottom on the floor.”
It wasn’t until less than two days later that the mother-of-two began to feel “a little bit sick” while working another shift.
She was sent home sick and said she texted her friends telling them she was “put on and sore all over.”
‘When I started to feel unwell, the infection had already taken hold of me and I couldn’t sleep,’ said Ms Stacey.
Her 14-year-old daughter, who was staying with her sister for the weekend at her father’s house, became concerned after she called her mother several times but was not answered.
She then summoned a friend of her mother’s to check on her and when the woman arrived she found Mrs Stacey unconscious with a very swollen arm.
The friend then called an ambulance before Mrs Stacey was rushed to Footscray Hospital where she was in a coma for 10 days and became close to septic.
“If she hadn’t, I might not be here today. The hospital staff told my parents I might not make it,’ Mrs Stacey said.
NECROTIZED FASCIITIS: THE FREE CARN-EATING BACTERIA
Necrotizing fasciitis, more commonly known as “flesh-eating disease,” is a rare but extremely malignant bacterial infection. “Necrotization” refers to something that causes body tissue to die, and the infection can destroy skin, muscle, and fat.
The disease develops when the bacteria enters the body, often through a minor cut or abrasion. As the bacteria multiply, they release toxins that kill tissue and cut off blood supply to the area.
Because it is so virulent, the bacteria spreads quickly throughout the body.
Symptoms include small, red nodules or bumps on the skin, rapidly spreading bruising, sweating, chills, fever, and nausea. Organ failure and shock are also common complications.
Sufferers must be treated immediately to prevent death, and are usually given strong antibiotics and surgery to remove dead tissue. Amputation may become necessary if the disease spreads down an arm or leg.
Patients may undergo skin grafts after the infection has cleared, to aid the healing process or for aesthetic reasons.
500 to 1,500 cases are reported each year, but 20 to 25 percent of victims die.
She had developed necrotizing fasciitis with doctors stating her whole body was in danger of being poisoned.
“The blood infection moved quickly and affected the entire right side of my body. I woke up with a big snake in my throat. It was such a shock,” she said.
‘I couldn’t talk, see or walk properly. I had to have surgery to have the flesh removed. Then I spent weeks in hospital.’
When Ms. Stacey was fired, she had to take time off from her job to recover from the horrific injury that is still open at the elbow.
“When I was allowed to go home, I was struggling financially because I couldn’t work, so I had to get legal help. I was hesitant at first,” the mother said.
She did not file for workers’ compensation at the time, as she preferred not to put a financial burden on her boss.
But she realized she had to do something because she had no savings left “otherwise my children would be victims.”
Law firm Slater and Gordon took up its case and filed a claim on behalf of the injured mother through the government’s WorkCover compensation scheme.
‘If you can’t work and you can’t earn an income, it causes a lot of stress. The stress and pressure can sometimes be worse than dealing with the injury itself,’ said Ms Stacey.
But her claim was successful and she now receives a large portion of her wages through Workcover as she continues her recovery.
Mrs. Stacey still has significant scars left from the injury, so she wears a stocking over it.
Slater and Gordon attorney Michelle Cavalieri said workers can get compensation if they injured themselves on the job, even if it wasn’t the employer’s fault.
Ms Cavalieri said it doesn’t matter how someone is injured as people can make a claim even if they trip over their own shoelaces at work.
The workers’ compensation attorney said if it happened at work or during those hours, you’re entitled to support.
“Workplaces are insured for this reason and pay premiums to a WorkCover insurer, to ensure that an employee is financially covered in the event of an injury,” she said.
She said some workplaces will tell employees not to file a WorkCover claim and pay their medical expenses.
“But this does the worker a great disservice, because they miss out on lost wages and any future economic losses,” Ms Cavalieri said.
Meanwhile, Ms. Stacey encouraged others in her situation to seek help if they were injured at work.
“I never thought this could have happened to me, but it did,” she said.