REAL LIFE

Woman fights to keep legs after horrific varicose vein treatment goes wrong

She can't believe it go so bad!

A simple injection to reduce the appearance of a varicose vein led to a life-threatening infection that almost cost this Aussie woman her legs.

Donna Zavaglia, 42, shares with that’s life! how her life was never the same after she, then 30, contracted a horrendous flesh-eating bacteria from seeing her doctor about a varicose vein.

‘I felt far too young to have a big, puffy, varicose vein running down one of my legs,’ Donna explains.

‘Two years earlier I’d seen my doctor about the problem and he’d made it disappear with an injection, almost like magic.

‘This time, the doctor injected the solution into the big vein on my left leg and the unsightly spider veins in both my calves.’

Told to keep the area compressed and come in for a check up in a couple of week’s time, Donna went back to work.

Donna with her parents, Kaye and Dominic.
Donna with her parents, Kaye and Dominic.

‘By night-time I was really ill.

‘It was one of the worst nights of my life.’

Waking in the morning Donna had no strength in her legs, and was in excruciating pain. Her calves had swollen to twice their size, and she was feeling incredible nauseous.

She called her mum for help and along with her brothers, she was rushed to hospital, where she received a shocking diagnosis.

Donna had an infection that was eating away at her leg muscles.

Donna had contracted necrotising fasciitis – commonly known as flesh-eating bacteria – and she was at risk of losing her legs if it wasn’t treated promptly.

‘It was like a horror movie,’ recalls Donna.

‘I endured five surgeries in four days as surgeons cut more of my legs away, removing most of both my calves.

Donna was certain it had happened during her varicose vein treatment, but there was no way to prove exactly how it happened or who was responsible.

Skin grafts help replace the sick tissue with healthy skin.

She would go on to endure 13 more surgeries in the next 10 years and had to learn to walk again.

‘My experience has taught me to enjoy life more and not sweat the small stuff.

‘I’ve learned not to let something as silly as a varicose vein get me down.’

The rest of Donna’s story an other real Aussie stories in Issue 9 of that’s life!

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