Woman loses leg after freak accident in supermarket car park leads to shin ‘exploding’

A woman almost died after over stepping a kerb in a freak accident at a supermarket car park which led to her shin ‘exploding’.

Helen Way caught an infection which led to life-threatening sepsis after breaking her knee in the accident 18 months ago.

The 49-year-old from Trowbridge, Wiltshire, explains her lower leg ‘exploded’.

Doctors attempted to save her leg by carrying out 12 surgeries but she was told it was ‘too damaged’ to be saved.

Former business owner and mum of one said: “It was a freak accident as my knee broke in half from overstepping in November 2019.

“The doctor said I did a ‘spectacular job’ as I needed plates and screws to repair it.

“I spent 10 days in hospital but when I was discharged, I noticed the scar was weeping.”

Helen was prescribed pain killers as her leg began to experience burning sensations, was swollen and progressively getting worse.

In December she alerted the medics during a fracture appointment about her sickness and fever.

She said: “I was worried and concerned about my health as I was vomiting and hadn’t eaten for a week. I was unable to touch my leg and had a fever.

“A blood test revealed I had a serious infection and I was blue lighted to the hospital. As I was sat there, I felt a pop and a sudden release.

“My lower leg exploded – it was disgusting.

“It was oozing with blood and pus all night whilst I waited for surgery in the morning. The bed was wet, it was absolutely foul.”

Despite multiple surgeries to clean the wound, it continued to bleed and Helen had become delirious, and diagnosed with florid sepsis.

Her condition was critical and she was put into intensive care as her organs began shutting down.

She adds: “It seemed like operation after operation.

“I was in ICU for 18 days. It was there that it was also discovered that I had a rare drug interaction called Pyroglutamic acidosis – which was also contributing to my critical condition.

“As soon as this was diagnosed they were able to start treating me correctly and further operations were more successful.

“Unfortunately the damage to the cartilage, partly due to the tear, but my leg required cutting away due to the infection, meant that amputation was my only option.

“It was a combination of everything that had happened, not just sepsis.

“I barely remember a thing about that time due to delirium apart from the terrifying paranoia and hallucinations.

“My family thought they were going to lose me but somehow I pulled through.”

During her time in ICU, Helen had five blood transfusions. She was moved onto a ward in January and she compares her leg to a ‘leg of lamb’.

She said: “The surgeon said I need to consider an amputation but the damage was already done.

“For me, it was a no brainer as I could either live my life in pain with poor mobility because my knee was severely damaged – or have it off and start again.

“I was happy for them to take it away rather than hack at my other leg and body.

“I didn’t want to be turned into Frankenstein’s bride.”

Helen received her prosthetic leg in October 2020.

She said: “It has been hard, but I am a positive person.

“I wouldn’t have been able to get through this without my incredible partner Andy, daughter Jess and my mum. They have been my rock.

“I am lucky to have supportive friends and family.

“I’ve faced some challenges and my independence has been altered but I am determined not to be defined by my disability.”