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Ribble Valley mum’s a lifeline for victims of gangrene
IN the 12 years since her son died from a flesh-eating bug, Doreen Marsden has thrown herself into saving lives across the world.
Lee Spark was 23 when the necrotising fasciitis (NF) infection entered his body because of a tooth abscess.
NF, dubbed ‘galloping gangrene’ because it kills human tissue at a rate of inches per hour, affected him down to the torso and he died within days.
Doreen, now 58, set up The Lee Spark NF Foundation in 2000 after difficulty finding support or information.
The former doctor’s receptionist, of Knowle Green, near Ribchester, said: “Necrotising fasciitis is gangrene but when Lee died I’d never heard of the long medical term. I decided I wanted to speak to survivors so I could understand what Lee went through.”
Doreen has set up a network of survivors who support each other, and a group of medical experts who can advise on treatments, and works as a bereavement councillor for family and friends of NF victims.
She said: “Now I live and I breathe the charity work and I think many lives must have been saved by raising awareness and helping people get the right treatment.
“It’s nice to know some good has come out of something so awful.
“I went to a fundraiser not long ago and people were treating me like The Queen. But I’m just a very, very, normal person with a project.”
The Foundation has given away 10,000 DVDs on NF to doctors worldwide. It features consultants and surgeons talking about NF and what it is like to survive the infection.
Doreen commented: “It’s important that the patient’s perspective is heard. Nothing is done about the psychological impact this has.
“Ninety nine per cent of the survivors were on life support, they take 70 different tablets a day and they have to relearn how to talk and walk.
“I want to raise awareness to help people spot the symptoms sooner.”
A clay pigeon shoot will be held at Moor Hey Farm, Knowle Green, Ribchester from 1 to 6pm tomorrow to raise money for the Foundation.
Admission is £7 for adults, including three clay shots, food and soft drinks. For children aged eight and above, the admission is £4. For more information, visit: www.nfsuk.org.uk.