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Man’s agony as ‘red raw’ leg swells twice the size in sepsis battle

PUBLISHED: 13:45 25 September 2020 | UPDATED: 13:45 25 September 2020

Ben Cronin, pharmacy advisor and healthy living champion at Boots in Beccles. PHOTO: Ben Cronin

Ben Cronin, pharmacy advisor and healthy living champion at Boots in Beccles. PHOTO: Ben Cronin

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A Lowestoft man who is currently recovering from sepsis after a small insect bite is speaking out about the condition which claimed the life of his father.

Ben Cronin's leg swelled to twice the size after an insect bite led to sepsis. PHOTO: Ben CroninBen Cronin's leg swelled to twice the size after an insect bite led to sepsis. PHOTO: Ben Cronin

Since being bitten on August 28, Ben Cronin has faced daily trips to A&E and hours of antibiotics through a drip as he continues his recovery from the potentially life-threatening condition.

Nine years earlier, his father, also named Ben, died from sepsis days after being diagnosed with a chest infection.

Mr Cronin said: “I had an insect bite on my leg and within 12 hours my leg had swelled to twice the size.

“I was on antibiotics from my GP and they seemed to help, but the next morning my leg was red raw.

Ben Cronin faced daily trips to the James Paget University Hospital for treatment for sepsis. PHOTO: Ben CroninBen Cronin faced daily trips to the James Paget University Hospital for treatment for sepsis. PHOTO: Ben Cronin

“I was sent to the hospital who gave me stronger antibiotics but by the following day I couldn’t walk or bend my knee.

“I went back to A&E and within five minutes I was getting antibiotics through a drip.”

Mr Cronin was sent home again, but had to return to the hospital daily for more than a week for two-hour long treatments each time, with the antibiotics leaving him feeling sick and “not wanting to do anything.”

Yet while Mr Cronin describes his experience as a “mild bout” of sepsis, the condition took the life of his father.

Ben Cronin senior died after a short battle with sepsis in 2011. PHOTO: Ben CroninBen Cronin senior died after a short battle with sepsis in 2011. PHOTO: Ben Cronin

He said: “It was the week of William and Kate’s royal wedding - he was fine but by the following Saturday he was dead.

“My younger brother came home from school and there was a stomach bug going around.

“He caught the bug and they found vomit in his lungs. He had a chest infection and was lying in bed shivering.

“Mum phoned the GP who gave him antibiotics and he seemed to get better.

“We thought that had sorted it, but when the GP came back a few days later they rushed him to hospital.

“He was sitting in the hospital bed saying everyone was overreacting.”

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Shortly afterwards, doctors placed the 69-year-old in an induced coma, but he passed away on May 7, 2011.

His son said: “There was nothing to suggest that was going to be it.

“We thought the coma would give his body a chance to recover and we still had that hope but it was taken away like a rug being pulled from under your feet.”

Mr Cronin, who works as a pharmacy advisor and healthy living champion at Boots in Beccles, said he wanted to use the memory of his father’s death to raise awareness of the life-threatening condition.

He said: “My role is to promote health and wellbeing to customers.

“I am quite serious about it, especially with Covid when one of the biggest complications is sepsis.

“People say they try not to remember things like that, but I try to not forget seeing my dad in hospital because of how harrowing it was so I can describe to people just how serious this is.”

Sepsis, also known as blood poisoning, can occur following an infection or injury, when the immune system attacks the body’s own organs and tissues.

If not treated immediately, sepsis can result in organ failure and death, but can be treated with antibiotics after an early diagnosis.

Symptoms of sepsis can appear similar to flu, gastroenteritis or a chest infection, although symptoms can present differently between adults and children.

Signs in adults include slurred speech, extreme shivering, severe breathlessness and mottled or discoloured skin.

In children, symptoms include fast breathing, a fit or convulsion, difficult to wake and abnormally cold to touch.

Those displaying symptoms are urged to call 999 or go to A&E.

Charities, including the UK Sepsis Trust, marked World Sepsis Day on September 13, while the month is designated as Sepsis Awareness Month across the world.

Mr Cronin has also thanked his pharmacy colleagues, who advised him to attend A&E, as well as hospital staff for their treatment and diagnosis.

He is also working with members of the NHS to promote sepsis awareness.

Dr Ron Daniels, founder of the UK Sepsis Trust, said: “It is critical we raise awarness among the public, in particular at a time when we need to begin to emerge from a focus on a single disease.”


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