A grandfather was left fighting for his life after developing sepsis from biting his nails.
Ricky Kennedy says he is lucky to be alive after contracting the silent killer from nibbling his thumbnail down.
The 57-year-old was given slim odds of surviving the terrifying ordeal and spent months in hospitals battling sepsis.
Sepsis strikes when an infection sparks a violent immune response, causing the body to attack its own organs.
It is the leading cause of avoidable death in the UK, killing at least 44,000 a year. The Mail has long campaigned for more awareness.
Ricky Kennedy says he is lucky to be alive after contracting the silent killer from nibbling his thumbnail down (pictured with his wife Ghislaine, 65)
Speaking to the Lennox Herald from his home last week to raise awareness, Mr Kennedy said: ‘I’m lucky to be alive.
‘I may never be as healthy or as strong as I was, but I’m still here with my family and that is very precious to me.’
Mr Kennedy, from Dumbarton in Scotland, said he had bitten his nail down too far and noticed a tiny blister forming on his thumb.
He went to see his GP after getting concerned over the blister and he was initially given antibiotics to clear a suspected infection.
The infection began to spread up his arms to his chest, and within days he was rushed to hospital and left battling for his life.
Mr Kennedy said: ‘I didn’t think for a second that the cut on my thumb was the cause of it all. It was tiny.
‘I had bitten my nail like that hundreds of times before so to think it almost killed me is terrifying.
‘I was in so much pain, I couldn’t move. I thought I was having a heart attack and I really did think I was going to die.
Mr Kennedy, from Dumbarton in Scotland, said he had bitten his nail down too far and noticed a tiny blister forming on his thumb (pictured)
‘If it wasn’t for Ghislaine [his 65-year-old wife] phoning an ambulance I would be dead.’
His devoted wife had returned home to find Mr Kennedy severely unwell and called his doctor to their home.
It was then that he was diagnosed with sepsis and the couple were told it was a matter of life and death.
Mrs Kennedy said: ‘By the time the doctor got here it was all spreading down Ricky’s arms and chest.
‘He was absolutely delirious – he didn’t even know what age he was and he could barely breathe or stand up. I didn’t think he was going to make it.’
Mr Kennedy endured months of hospital stays at the infectious diseases ward in the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital – the only one of its kind in Scotland.
His early weeks in hospital, in which his wife feared he would never return home, remain a blur for Mr Kennedy.
The infection began to spread up his arms to his chest, he claims, and within days he was rushed to hospital and left battling for his life
Mr Kennedy endured months of hospital stays at the infectious diseases ward in the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital – the only one of its kind in Scotland
Mr Kennedy, who also has type 2 diabetes, was finally discharged from hospital in May this year and spent a further two gruelling months on antibiotics.
He said: ‘I don’t remember a thing from when I was first taken to hospital. All I can remember is asking a nurse if I was going to die.
‘It was a terrible time and you sink into a depression being stuck in hospital for that long.
‘I just wanted to come home but we were so lucky to have so many people visit and help us through it.’
Mr Kennedy now faces major surgery on his collarbone to replace the eroded bones and is still in excruciating pain every day.
He praised the love and support from his community, which he claims helped him on the way to recovery.
The pair will be joining All Sorts Choir members this month for their first concert of the year following Mr Kennedy’s illness.
The church-goer also said: ‘I really do believe it was the power of prayer that got me through.
‘So many people had me in their thoughts and it meant so much to me… We are all like a big family, it was incredible.
‘Being in the choir and playing my guitar is such an important part of my life and if I didn’t still have that I don’t know what I would do.’
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