The mother of a boy who lost his toes and most of his fingers while fighting sepsis at the age of 18 months is trying to raise funds for life-changing surgery in Poland that could see him walk again.
Jakub Kolek, who is now four, from Edinburgh, was rushed to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in the Scottish capital after his mother Karina Kolek, 30, found him unconscious in his cot in October 2016.
Upon reaching the hospital Karina and Jakub’s father Pawel, 37, who are both originally from Poland, were told by doctors that their son had contracted generalised sepsis and was in a critical condition.
Jakub’s legs and hands developed necrotic lesions which doctors desperately tried to clear before being forced to perform amputations on all of his toes and most of his fingers in order to keep him alive.
Jakub Kolek (pictured with mother Karina), four, from Edinburgh, was just 18-months-old when he was diagnosed with generalised sepsis
The young boy was rushed to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children after his mother found him unconscious in his cot
Within the first month necrotic lesions began to occur and doctors decided to perform amputations on Jakub’s fingers and toes in order to keep him alive
In order to save him, surgeons had to remove all of Jakub’s toes and six of his fingers from his hands
Stay-at-home mother Karina, who first noticed Jakub had a temperature the night before he was rushed to hospital, said: ‘I was very scared because I didn’t know what was going on.
‘My son lost consciousness and I saw petechiae (red spots caused by blood vessels breaking) on his face, so I took him to the hospital as soon as possible because I was very scared.
‘I felt very terrible. I couldn’t imagine my son without fingers, and I kept asking myself why this had happened to him. It was a very dramatic moment in our lives.
‘The first thing I remember was that it was the morning – around 7am. The night before he was very sick and I thought maybe it’s his teeth coming out. In the morning he lost consciousness and I rushed him to the hospital.’
‘When we got to the hospital the doctors said the first 24 hours were critical because of this infection. I thought I had lost my son.’
Jakub (pictured with Karina) was kept in hospital for three months before his parents were able to take him home at the weekends
Jakub’s father Pawel (pictured with Jakub) said that after his son was rushed to hospital doctors told him and Karina that the first 24 hours were critical
Following surgery, Jakub was left in a great amount of pain and struggled to walk. Pictured, the youngster’s legs
As doctors desperately tried to save the child’s life, Jakub’s parents, who also share daughter Martyna, nine, together, were left waiting anxiously in the hospital.
Jakub’s father Pawel, who works at a car wash company, explained: ‘After the first 24 hours not much changed so they just said we have to see if he survives another 24 hours. After 48 hours, every few hours, the doctors would give us updates.’
WHAT IS SEPSIS?
Sepsis occurs when the body reacts to an infection by attacking its own organs and tissues.
Some 44,000 people die from sepsis every year in the UK. Worldwide, someone dies from the condition every 3.5 seconds.
Sepsis has similar symptoms to flu, gastroenteritis and a chest infection.
- Slurred speech or confusion
- Extreme shivering or muscle pain
- Passing no urine in a day
- Severe breathlessness
- It feels like you are dying
- Skin mottled or discoloured
Symptoms in children are:
- Fast breathing
- Fits or convulsions
- Mottled, bluish or pale skin
- Rashes that do not fade when pressed
- Feeling abnormally cold
Under fives may be vomiting repeatedly, not feeding or not urinating for 12 hours.
Anyone can develop sepsis but it is most common in people who have recently had surgery, have a urinary catheter or have stayed in hospital for a long time.
Other at-risk people include those with weak immune systems, chemotherapy patients, pregnant women, the elderly and the very young.
Treatment varies depending on the site of the infection but involves antibiotics, IV fluids and oxygen, if necessary.
Source: UK Sepsis Trust and NHS Choices
During the three months that Jakub was kept in hospital his tissue cells began to deteriorate, and doctors needed to amputate the dead limbs he had been left with.
‘He was in hospital for a while and his fingers and toes were just black, explained Pawel.
‘The doctors initially said they would have to cut his hands up to his elbow and his legs up to his knees but we didn’t agree to that.
‘We told them we wanted to save as much as possible, so finally they cut his toes and finger.’
Following surgery, Jakub’s parents were able to take him home every weekend and had to inject their son with blood thinners as part of his treatment.
Karina continued: ‘After three months we were able to take him home for the weekends and then we had to bring him back to the hospital for the rest of the day.’
‘I just remember one of the medical staff showing me how to use the injections I needed to give to him.’
When they returned home, Karina and Pawel realised the soles of their son’s feet were causing him pain and mobility issues.’
They took him back to the doctors where they were told that his feet, in particular his left foot, were not functioning correctly due to the large loss of tissue from sepsis.
In an effort to help their son walk, Jakub’s parents agreed to have him undergo further surgery in June 2018, which saw doctors scold the bone in order to reshape it.
The surgery helped Jakub, who at the time was just three, for a short period of time with his mobility.
But as the bone began to grow back he was again left in pain and unable to walk.
‘He had problems with his feet and hands because he would try and stand on his feet and would not be able to walk,’ said Karina.
‘The surgery helped for a short time until the bone grew back again, but I don’t want him to have that surgery again.’
‘I’m scared because if he keeps having that done it will shorten his legs. Also, he was left with really big scars all over his legs and hands the last time.’
When Jakub was finally able to return home his parents noticed he would struggle to stand up straight
Jakub (pictured) had further further surgery in June 2018 that saw doctors scold the bone in order to reshape it – but the surgery only helped for a short period of time
As their son’s movement once again began to decrease, Karina and Pawel set about searching for a medical professional who might be able help.
They came across world-leading orthopaedic surgeon Dr Dror Paley, from Florida, who specialises in limb-lengthening surgery.
‘We just wanted to see him as soon as possible, said Pawel. ‘We’ve been lucky because he just came to London for a holiday and said he wanted to see Karina and Jakub in the hotel were he was stayed – so we jumped in the car and went.’
During their meeting with Dr Paley, the surgeon who has a clinic both in Florida and Warsaw, Poland, examined Jakub’s feet and assured his parents that he would be able to get their son walking again.
Karina (pictured with her son) said she felt ‘scared’ when doctors told her he would have to have his fingers and toes removed
‘Dr Paley got Jakub to remove his shoes,’ explained Pawel. ‘He kept saying that it can be fixed and the skin can be moved a little bit upwards. He told us he will be able to run after the operation and walk.’
The operation, which is not available in the UK and will cost £60,095 in order to be carried out in Poland, will involve lengthening Jakub’s feet and creating custom silicone in-soles.
‘Once we saw the doctor and he said he could do so many things to fix Jakub’s legs we were so happy,’ said Pawel.
Karina, who also has a daughter named Martyna (right), nine, now hopes to fly her son to Poland in April 2020 in order for him to receive surgery from the world-leading orthopaedic surgeon Dr Dror Paley, from Florida
‘But once we saw the price that was just like a big punch. It’s money we can’t even earn in ten years, so Karina started a gofundme page and we’ve since been receiving emails and messages of support.
‘For now it’s my number one priority. It’s the most important thing,’ he said.
Karina added: ‘I just want my son to be able to walk normally.’
The gofundme page, launched in the hope of paying for their son’s surgery, set to take place in April 2020, has already raised more than £2,000.
‘He tries to run, makes a few steps and then just bends over and then he’ll say ”that’s okay, that’s okay,” said Pawel. ‘Then he’ll start again. It’s sad to watch.’
‘This operation is the final one that can provide him with a better future because once its done it will be forever.
‘At the moment, we just see from one month to the other that he is walking less and less because the bone is bending.’
To donate go to: https://www.gofundme.com/f/sqssk-help-for-jakub