My husband, Matthew, had a kidney/pancreas transplant on 19th May 2013 at the Manchester Royal Infirmary. The operation was a success & he went onto the ward to recuperate. During the next 2 weeks he was quite unwell – having issues with nausea & he was in lots of pain. He had a high temperature & his blood pressure was high. I was very concerned when his condition did not seem to be improving & spoke to a consultant, who assured me Matt was on antibiotics to treat the temperature & they were scheduling him in for various scans to investigate the problem. On 7th June when I went to visit Matt he was very agitated & emotional, he described it as the worst he’d ever felt. He was due to go for a scan on his abdomen & had drank a potion (sorry I forget what it was called) so the Doctors could see if there was an internal leak which was causing the pain & sickness. Before they took him for the scan Matt went to the toilet & he collapsed – when he was brought back to his bed a Transplant Practitioner examined him & saw his wound drain had filled with faeces. It was apparent he had an internal leak & they rushed him for emergency surgery.
Matt had suffered a leak where the pancreas was attached to the bowel & his body went into Septic Shock. The pancreas had to be removed during surgery & Matt was on a ventilator for 3 days & spent 5 weeks in intensive care. His abdomen was left open after the emergency surgery as the surgeons had to regularly perform abdominal washout to remove infection. ,, & had approx 40 abdominal washout procedures during that time. His abdomen has been left open to heal on its own because the skin was so traumatized, it’s only now he has a small dressing to cover the wound. The hospital fitted him with vac therapy to drain the infection in between washout up until November.
It’s been an incredibly difficult time for our family (we have an 8 year old son) but as the Surgeons said after the emergency surgery, Matt had his age on his side (he’s 38) but we know he’s extremely lucky to pull through. We both had no knowledge of sepsis prior to this, & we are now probably over cautious when it comes to Matt feeling under the weather – he regularly checks his temperature & blood pressure & I’m convinced the sepsis has returned every time he’s having an ‘off’ day. But we’re aware of the signs now & if we can help others be aware then that is great.
I do have to mention that we have complete faith in the medical team that looked after Matt after his transplant & do not blame anyone for the leak not being spotted earlier – apparently it was in a very difficult place. But I wonder if awareness of the signs of sepsis was more widespread, would it have been on the radar sooner?