Lying in his hospital bed on Monday, feeling more thankful than ever to be alive, Harry Sandhu is sharing his story as a warning to others.

“There is a lot of kids that play sports and a lot of adults too and I think that when someone gets a cut don’t overlook it, obviously get it totally cleaned up. Uou never know what kind of infection you could pick up,” said Sandhu.

For Sandhu, he caught an infection called Necrotizing Fasciitis or flesh-eating bacteria.

“Once it gets in the body, that’s why its called flesh-eating disease. The toxins are so potent they literally dissolve and eat the muscle,” said Island Health Chief Medical Health Officer Dr.Richard Stanwick.

Stanwick said the several kinds of bacteria that can cause flesh-eating disease can also cause infections such as strep throat and impetigo.

And they can be present on many people’s skin without doing any harm.

“The potential for carrying this germ on your skin can only be determined if you do a swab and we might, in fact, find that in a group of people have it and have been comfortably co-existing with it and can continue to do so as long as the skin isn’t broken,” said Dr. Stanwick.

While playing a soccer match on March 31 t at the Royal Atheltic Park in Victoria, Sandhu cut his shin.

“I could have got it from sliding on the grass and maybe hitting someone in the changing room or maybe rubbing against someone elses knee,” said Sandhu.

Sandhu kept playing and later bandaged the cut up but the very next morning he knew something as wrong.

“My shin was twice as big as my leg,” said Sandhu.

Sandhu describes the pain as excruciating.

“The pain was so intense I couldn’t stand. I was screaming,” said Sandhu.

Once he got to the hospital Monday, doctors sliced open his leg and rushed him into surgery to get rid of the infection.

“I was lucky I got here quick and I should have gotten here quicker. I wish I came here after the game but nobody thinks like that,” said Sandhu.

He said doctors told him if he waited any longer, he not only would have lost his leg, he likely would have lost his life.

“I could have taken a Tylenol and iced my leg and stayed home and come the next day and like they said it could be your funeral,” said Sandhu.

That is why Sandhu hopes his story resonates.

“You just have to be careful. This is a life-altering event for myself. I just wanted to tell the kids that and the parents when your kid has a cut, it has got to get cleaned right away because this could happen,” said Sandhu.

While health professionals say contracting Necrotizing Fasciitis is rare, it’s important to take precautions.

“Practicing good hygiene and handwashing but paying attention to cuts and scrapes. If all of a sudden a cut or scrape is starting to hurt way out of proportion to what something so small should be feeling that is the time to get assistance and get it early,” said Dr.Stanwick.

Sandhu’s road to recovery is not over. On Tuesday he will go into surgery again to close his leg back up and get a skin graft. Then in a few weeks, he will have to start physiotherapy to learn to walk and put weight on his leg.

“It’s all because that one little cut underneath my shinpad underneath my sock. Something got in there and it took over my entire leg,” said Sandhu. 

 

 

Luisa Alvarez