A father’s extraordinary determination to live has seen him survive a deadly flesh-eating disease that claimed all of his limbs.
Sydney mechanical engineer Mick O’Dowd, 45, was preparing his children’s presents on Christmas Day when a pain in his buttock got so bad he decided to go to hospital.
He was prescribed anti-inflammatory pills for nerve pain but it got worse so he went back the next day.
Sydney mechanical engineer Mick O’Dowd (pictured) is learning how to eat again after having all of his limbs removed
Mr O’Dowd (pictured after surgery) was preparing his children’s presents on Christmas Day when a pain in his buttock got so bad he decided to go to hospital
Life will never be the same again for Mick O’Dowd, his wife Katharine and their young children
Mr O’Dowd rapidly deteriorated and was rushed to a bigger hospital where he was put on life support.
Doctors discovered he had a bacterial infection which was causing a flesh-eating disease called necrotizing myositis and giving him septic shock.
The infection caused Mr O’Dowd’s limbs to become gangrenous and they had to be amputated to keep him alive.
After his first surgery, doctors told his distraught wife Katharine he would most likely die within three hours.
She said goodbye but he amazingly pulled through and is now recovering and learning how to use prosthetic limbs.
Last month Mrs O’Dowd posted a heartwarming update to a GoFund Me page set up to raise money for myoelectric hand prosthetics, which are $150,000 each.
Doctors discovered the father (pictured with his wife Katherine and children) had a bacterial infection which was causing a flesh-eating disease called necrotizing myositis and giving him septic shock
She wrote: ‘Mick has continued to make great progress after moving to rehab. He’s working hard and doing about 5 hours of therapy and gym work each day, and is finally starting to regain his strength. It’s really busy for him, and he is actually really enjoying it.’
Mrs O’Dowd said her husband has been ‘motoring around in a power wheelchair borrowed from the hospital, which he loves, and is able to get out and about.’
What is Necrotizing Myositis?
Myositis is a rare condition that affects the muscles. The term myositis means ‘inflammation of the muscles’.
Necrotizing Myositis is when it kills cells in the muscle.
The main signs are muscle weakness, painful or aching muscles, tripping or falling, and extreme tiredness after walking or standing.
Myositis is usually caused by an underlying problem with the immune system, where it mistakenly attacks healthy tissue.
She added: ‘The last couple of Sundays he’s even been able to come home for visits – which has been really amazing! Has definitely made the prospect of him coming home feel a lot closer, and has also turned our mind to all the changes we’ll need to make at home.’
In July she posted a video showing Mr O’Dowd eating by himself for the first time since his operations.
She wrote: ‘Here’s a little video of Mick learning to feed himself. This was only his second go at it and his arms still don’t have much strength – but you can see for yourself how determined he is.’
The fundraising page also explains how Mr O’Dowd’s condition took hold.
‘Mick’s organs were hit by the toxic shock from the bacteria, causing limited functionality,’ the page states.
‘The intense medication he was on to stabilise his blood pressure resulted in limited circulation, causing further damage to his limbs and extremities. The toxic shock also caused burn-like injuries to over 70 per cent of Mick’s skin.’
Myoelectric hand prosthetics will eventually allow him to return to work, stay active and involved with his family.
‘Mick is one of the most determined people you will meet, he has never before given up on anything and it is clear that he doesn’t plan to start now,’ the GoFundMe page states.
‘His inspirational strength and determination to live have been instrumental in him overcoming extraordinary obstacles, and give him the best chance of success in dealing with the many new challenges his life will involve.’
Friends, family and strangers have rallied around Mr O’Dowd and his young family with more than $200,000 raised.
‘Life as they knew it will never be the same again for Mick, Katharine, Amelia and Thomas,’ the fundraising page states.
‘Financial support from friends and the community around them, however, will make a significant difference in ensuring the new chapter of their lives is the best it could possibly be. ‘
‘Mick is one of the most determined people you will meet, he has never before given up on anything and it is clear that he doesn’t plan to start now,’ the GoFundMe page states