'It was torture': Cork man issues warning after surviving rare flesh-eating disease 

What started as a small cut on his nearly cost Robbie Walsh his life. 
'It was torture': Cork man issues warning after surviving rare flesh-eating disease 
Robbie Walsh and his wife Tracey

A Cork man who almost died after catching a rare flesh eating bug has issued a public warning.

Speaking on the Neil Prendeville Show on Cork's REDFM, Robbie Walsh described how a small cut on his toe quickly caused his foot to swell "like a balloon'

At first look, South Doc believed he had gout but just twenty-four hours later, he "couldn't breath" and was physically unwell. 

After showing doctors a series of pictures in hospital, they cut his leg to relieve the pressure before putting him under sedation. After a series of tests they discovered he had Necrotizing Fasciitis (NF), a very rare flesh eating disease. 

NF, as its commonly known, has a 25% survival rate. However, Robbie did not grasp the severity of the disease until doctors at the Mercy University Hospital told his wife, Tracey, that they were "trying to save his life, not his limb".

NF is a flesh eating disease that has a 25% survival rate.
NF is a flesh eating disease that has a 25% survival rate.

Robbie recalled on air how he asked his wife "Is this it?" and wanted nothing more than to say goodbye to their children. 

Seven surgeries and one skin graph later, Robbie survived the disease and, thanks to a series of antibiotics early in the crisis, the doctors did not need to amputate his leg. 

"I can't describe the pain, I was on every type of drug you could imagine... it was the closest thing to a form of torture"

He thanked the staff in Mercy University Hospital, who were "heroes" for pulling him through the illness but said recovery is slow. Twelve months on, he's still learning to walk again and regularly attends rehab, "If I walked 100m I'd be recovering for an hour later". 

Robbie told Neil Prendeville that he's "the luckiest unluckiest man" he knows but tries to be positive about the illness and is grateful for surviving such a deadly disease. 

More in this section

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox