Woman needs ‘lifesaving’ surgery as legs swell up after mystery bite on safari

A mum who has spent years in pain after being bitten on holiday fears she could die unless she can raise money for 'lifesaving' treatment.

Fern Wormald fell ill after being bitten on her toe while on a safari in Senegal in 2017, Yorkshire Live reports.

Since then, the 48-year-old has struggled with cellulitis and lymphoedema, with painful ulcers growing across her legs.

As well as leaving her unable to sleep, the open wounds put her at risk of developing life-threatening sepsis.

After being hospitalised with "very serious" sepsis four weeks ago, she is now desperate to try pioneering liposuction which could save her life.

The mum, who was rushed to hospital after being found unconscious following the bite, said: "I get very aggressive cellulitis, and because my legs are so swollen they split and sometimes they ulcerate. I've got eleven ulcers at the minute.

"So I'm trapped in a vicious cycle, and I'm living with the threat of sepsis all the time.

"The doctor's actual words to me were: 'We'll see you again, we'll treat you, we'll send you home. We'll see you again, we'll treat you, we'll send you home'."

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Fern, from Heckmondwike, West Yorkshire, was bitten during a family trip to Africa, where she and her daughter were teaching Maths and English to schoolchildren in The Gambia.

She says doctors have been unable to agree on what bit her, with suggestions including a snake, spider, or a mosquito.

But after being prescribed antibiotics, she returned home.

The day after she returned "enormous blisters appeared" and she had to spend seven weeks in hospital.

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Fern said she cannot remember everything that happened because she suffered delirium but she knows it was feared she may have to undergo amputation.

Fortunately this was not the case, though Fern has still faced many difficulties since.

As well as dealing with the pain, which feels like "someone has poured acid into an open wound", Fern has to deal with other side effects, including the swelling of her face and feet.

"I was a size seven shoe now I’m a size 11, and they don’t make ladies shoes in size 11 so I have to buy men's."

And she says she has become "more introverted" than before, adding: "I have no social life."

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With the NHS unable to offer "treatment apart from compression", which she has already tried to no avail, Fern hopes to undergo liposuction treatment privately.

It is hoped that a procedure to remove fluid in her legs can improve her quality of life and help with her risk of sepsis.

"It would change my life, and with this threat of sepsis all the time it could potentially save my life," she said.

A GoFundMe campaign to raise money for Fern's treatment has been started by her friend Laura Hopkinson.

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