A YOUNG mother has told how she was almost killed by a flesh-eating bug just days after giving birth to the “miracle” baby she never expected to see.
Linzi Christie briefly experienced the best moments of her life as she cuddled her newborn daughter at the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy, Fife.
Days later she was fighting for her life in the intensive care ward after necrotising fasciitis left her with a gaping wound in her abdomen bigger than a football.
Medics had to use a special vacuum machine to hold the wound together and give Linzi, 25, a chance of recovery.
The care home worker from Methil, Fife, is now recuperating at home with baby Tiffany, looked after by partner Kaps Jadav, 30.
But Linzi, who also suffered MRSA, during her ordeal blames dirty conditions at the controversial Victoria Hospital for her ordeal and is planning legal action.
The hospital has confirmed that it suffered three cases of flesh-eating bugs among patients in recent months but insists standards of cleanliness are above national standards.
Linzi was convinced she would never have children because of underlying health issues so she and Kaps, her partner of three years, were delighted when Tiffany was born on July 11.
Linzi said she noticed a “dirty, rotten” smell in the operating theatre at the time of her Caesarean section. She also claims a medic was applying so much pressure during the operation she feared her “back would break” and insisted he stop.
Tiffany was born healthy and the family enjoyed the first five days of new life back at home.
On July 16, Linzi was readmitted to hospital after she noticed her Caesarean scar was red and inflamed. She was given antibiotics and sent home but two days after that the wound had started to turn black.
Linzi said: “I had no idea what was going on, it was really terrifying. The doctors were in and out doing tests before they said I was going to need surgery.
“When they mentioned necrotising fasciitis it totally hit me. All I could think was ‘my bairn, I should be at home with my bairn’.
“We should have been bonding but I had to be away from her and was facing really serious surgery.
“The first thing I asked the doctors was ‘Am I going to die?’
“The whole time all I could think about was my wee baby, I’d only just met her and now had to have parts of me cut away so I wouldn’t die.”
Linzi needed three separate operations to cut away huge areas of infected tissue before the disease could spread and kill her. The emergency surgery saved her life but left her with a 28cm long hole that could only be “sucked” shut with a special “vat pac” machine.
As well as fighting necrotising fasciitis, Linzi contracted MRSA while at the Victoria and suffered a high fever.
She spent a further week in hospital, during which she was not allowed at any stage to see her baby.
Linzi said: “I knew I had to survive, I had to fight for my wee girl and now that the first round is over, I want to find out why this happened to me.
“Tiffany really is my little miracle baby. I never in a million years thought I would ever have children but then it finally happened.
Linzi believes she contracted the infections from a dirty operating theatre.
She said: “When I went in for my C-Section I noticed a really disgusting smell in the theatre. It was a dirty, rotten smell, like nothing I’ve ever smelt before.
“All I’m saying is that I was healthy before I went into hospital apart from the gestational diabetes caused by pregnancy but I really controlled that and I was only borderline anyway.
“Something made this infection happen and I want to know why.
“To get two types of infection while in a hospital is absolutely shocking and outrageous. It’s a brand new wing, with new equipment and yeah they have staffing problems but you never expect something like this to happen to you.”
Linzi believes at least one of the other two cases of necrotising fasciitis also involved the maternity unit. She said: “A midwife on the ward told me that another woman who had had a C-section also got the bug.”
A spokeswoman for Health Protection Scotland, the government-funded body which advises on disease prevention, said it was possible for the necrotising fasciitis bacteria to originate in the hospital environment.
She said: “We all have the organism which can cause the infection inside our bodies but there a different strains of it which can come from elsewhere.
“Without knowing the exact strain of the organism, we cannot say whether the infection came directly from a hospital or within the patient’s body itself.”
NHS Fife have confirmed that there were three cases of nectrotising fasciitis at the Victoria in “recent months”.
They said all the cases occured in patients with other major conditions and “there is no undue cause for concern”.
Dr Scott McLean, Executive Director of Nursing, said: “NHS Fife, like all NHS Boards, monitors the cleanliness of our hospitals closely.
“We participate in the National Monitoring Framework for NHS Scotland National Cleaning Services Specification.
“Recent reports show that we have exceeded the 90% compliance national target, with 96.9% achieved during January – March 2013 and 97.1% achieved during April – June 2013.”
The Victoria has attracted controversy ever since opening its doors in January 2012 after a £170m rebuild.
The hospital has been hit with more than 350 complaints from patients and is being sued by 10 of its own staff for negligence.
One woman, Lisa McNeil, 25, claims she was forced to give birth outside the hospital on the freezing pavement after staff failed to answer the buzzer at the maternity ward entrance.
Another patient, Cecilia Fisher, a 51-year-old from Cowdenbeath, died after staff allegedly failed to diagnose her ruptured bowel.