Published: June 28, 2019

I lost my arms and legs - stop it happening to others

A man who woke from a coma to discover both his arms and legs had been amputated and part of his face removed has called for mandatory training on sepsis for NHS staff.

Sepsis, or blood poisoning, is a serious complication of an infection, which can have devastating consequences if not treated quickly.

There were delays in spotting Tom Ray's sepsis.

He says more training is needed to avoid such tragedies.

Tom's story

Tom Ray was fit and healthy and living in Rutland in the East Midlands before he contracted sepsis at the age of 38 in 1999.

He had had a successful career in corporate banking and was in the process of setting up a business with his pregnant wife, Nic, when he fell ill.

His sepsis - thought to be caused by a cut to his gum during a trip to the dentist, combined with a chest infection - came on rapidly and led to vomiting and a high temperature.

But it took five hours at the hospital he was admitted to before the condition was diagnosed.

He spent months in a coma, during which time his wife Nic gave birth to their second child, Freddy.

His recovery has been a long and gruelling process, involving years of plastic surgery.

He has had to learn to walk, drive and live day-to-day life with prosthetic limbs.

The family lost their house and he has struggled to work.

"It is not the life I wanted to lead. It is not the life I wanted for my children. I have had some terrible lows, but I have learnt to battle on."

He puts that down to several factors. The "amazing" love and care provided by his wife and being mentally disciplined. "I have learnt to control what goes into my mind. I only let positive thoughts go in.

"I also realised it is not all about me. I had to be there for my children - to help them with their school work and take them places. Terrible things can happen in life, but you can get through them."

Now 57, Tom spends a lot of his time doing motivational speaking and campaigning to improve the way the NHS tackles sepsis.

Together with his wife and Pippa Bagnall, a former nurse and NHS chief executive, he has formed Resilience and Co to raise awareness of the problem.

Top of their wish list is mandatory training on sepsis for all staff who work in the health service.


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9th September 2020

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