A former ballet dancer who had her heel amputated has showed the devastating consequences for fellow diabetes sufferers if their limbs are not properly checked for infection in hospital.
Fiona King, 49, from Canterbury, Kent, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 19, but still pursued a career as a classical ballet dancer.
After contracting MRSA in her left foot, she had her heel removed and expects to lose her leg in the future.
She said: “I had a plate in my foot which got MRSA and I watched the bottom of my foot just fall to bits. I lost my heel eventually but they didn’t take my leg off. Just before surgery I begged them not to remove my leg. It was so important to me, I’d have done anything to keep my leg. She added: “I think you have an awareness of this but you think it’ll never happen to me.”
She was one of a group of amputees who gathered at the Body Worlds and Mirror of Time exhibition at London’s O2 Arena as part of Diabetes Week to raise awareness of the effects of the condition on limbs.
A report published showed that diabetes patients were at risk of having limbs amputated if hospitals do not regularly check them for infection and make them aware of the dangers of the condition.
Putting Feet First, a study by the charity Diabetes UK and NHS Diabetes, called for people with diabetes to have their feet examined at least once a year, and whenever they are admitted to hospital.
Chris Brown, 59, from Bristol, had his right leg amputated below the knee in May. He said: “It is my belief that if I had had better information then this would not have resulted in me losing my leg.” He added: “The message is, if you have the slightest damage to your foot you must go to a doctor right now. If people take that attitude they will not suffer the sort of things that have happened to me.”
Diabetes is the leading cause of lower-limb amputation in the world and around 5,000 people in the UK with diabetes undergo leg, foot or toe amputations each year – equivalent to 100 a week.
Bridget Turner, of Diabetes UK, said: “Hospitals don’t have the information skills and knowledge when somebody goes into hospital to prevent the development of foot complications or treat the complications. They don’t assess feet quickly enough, they don’t have the skills to identify the problems which could prevent amputation, and they don’t provide the information to people with diabetes to say ‘This is how you take care of yourself’.”
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