The designer whose foot was rotting was saved by the worms that ate his dead flesh

A designer left with a rotten foot after being bitten by an insect was saved after the doctors used the worms to eat off his dead flesh.

Matthew Blurton, 46, was volunteering in the Gambia in December 2017 when his temperature soared to 39.7 ° C (103.5 ° F) and an ugly blister on his foot left him unable to stand up.

Thinking he had just had a sunstroke, Mr. Blurton ignored his symptoms until his leg and foot began to swell.

After being admitted to hospital, doctors diagnosed Mr. Blurton with cellulitis and sepsis of bacterial infections – and told his girlfriend Katie Noble, 36, who was lucky to be alive.

Mr. Blurton was initially treated in a hospital in Africa before being transferred to the United Kingdom, where 400 specially bred larvae devoured the dead flesh on his foot, which came to the bone.

Although the treatment was a success, the nurses were not able to remove all the worms, with 20 left to decompose in the foot.

Matthew Blurton was left with a rotten foot after being bitten by an insect on his big toe while volunteering in Gambia in December 2017. Imagined before the trial with his girlfriend Katie Noble in Venice, he was saved after doctors used worms to to eat his dead meat

The bite of the insect leads to cellulitis from infection of the skin, which has triggered its sepsis. This meant that the meat on his foot was turned to bone. Mr. Blurton's foot is shown on the left in a hospital in the United Kingdom three days after the application of larvae to the wound. The image on the right shows the inflated leg and foot

Mr. Blurton, who lives in Doncaster, believes he has developed cellulitis and sepsis due to an insect bite, like a flea or a small spider, on his big toe.

"I have a hole on my foot and I can only think I was bitten by my finger by something tiny," he said. "I did not feel it, so I'll never know what it was.

"She's so small she was probably a flea or a small spider, but she was so small that I did not hear her when she bit me."

After becoming feverish and waking up in sweat, Mr. Blurton was admitted to the hospital, where he learned that his foot was rotting and the dead flesh to the bone.

"It was not easy, it was quite a shock to see how deep it is [the dead flesh] he had come down, "said Mrs. Noble. "Although I felt really sorry for him, I felt it was my fault because I said he did not need to go to the hospital.

"I thought it was a stroke of sunshine and it was not. I felt really guilty because of my fault that he suffered as much as he did. "

It was only when Blurton realized that he realized how serious his condition was. "I did not know how bad it was until they told me," he said.

Mr. Blurton spent ten days in a hospital in Gambia receiving antibiotics. He was discharged on Christmas Eve 2017 and soon returned home to the United Kingdom for the next part of his recovery.

Ms. Noble struggled to watch her boyfriend in pain, with her initially telling him that her febrile symptoms were probably just a sunstroke. After Mr. Blurton was diagnosed with cellulitis and sepsis in the African hospital, the doctors told Ms Noble that he was lucky to still be alive

Mr. Blurton is pictured left in Gambia on Christmas Day 2017 – the day after he left the hospital after a period of ten days of antibiotics. After treatment with larvae in the UK, doctors used a "vac pac" (right) to "suck" the skin on the surface to close its 2 cm deep wound

Speaking of larval therapy, Blurton – who is a designer of books and magazines – said: "It was not very nice to look at.

"I could not look at the photos [of the maggots] to start with. It was strange to know that this was my foot.

"Some of the nurses had never seen this treatment before, so everyone was coming to look at my foot because it was unusual.

"I felt them – it was like a small itch … I could feel my veins at my feet and eat them around."

Unusual treatment was also a shock to the other half of Mr Blurton.

"I knew larval treatments had been around for a long time, but doing it on you is different," Mrs. Noble said. "It was like …" what? Do you put worms on him? "

& # 39; e & # 39; It was painful to see 400 worms eating my partner's foot because it was painful for Matthew. & # 39;

The worms were devouring Mr. Blurton's flesh so quickly the doctors were forced to remove half of it after just two days.

"Taking them out was quite painful because some of them were stuck under the" good "skin," he said. "They had to get out of the forceps, which was painful."

Eventually, the nurses decided to leave about 20 difficult-to-reach worms in Mr. Blurton's foot when the pain of trying to remove them became too important for him.

The remaining worms are thought to have decomposed into Mr. Blurton's foot.

After therapy, Mr. Blurton was left with a 15 cm long wound that ran 2 cm deep. The doctors then used a "pac pac" to "suck" the skin on the surface, before taking a skin graft from the leg to cover the hole in the foot.

Although Mr. Blurton recovered, the ordeal had a lasting impact on Ms Noble.

"I was terrified," he said. "I do not think I'll ever see a bladder again, I'm constantly checking his feet to make sure they're okay and there's nothing unpleasant."

Mr. Blurton has no sensibility on the skin of the affected foot but is optimistic that the sensation will return.

He is talking to warn others about the risks of cellulite – which is at risk of resuming, as well as encouraging people to "cover" when out and about.

"I never even heard of cellulite until I got it," he said. "You can do it in this country, but it's rare enough to get.

"If I had walking boots or long pants, my chances of being bitten would have been much lower. I think when we were walking in bush and jungle areas I was not wearing the right shoes.

"I wore sandals and in the sand there are many things that can bite that I did not know, like poisonous spiders.

"If I came back, I would have proper walking boots to keep my feet covered and I would not even wear shorts."


Worms can be applied to infected tissues to feed on bacteria and dead cells in chronic wounds. In addition to cleaning the wound, the larvae also increase its chances of recovery.

Although it may make you feel a little sick, this ancient therapy has been used since the time of the Bible, but has fallen into disgrace when antibiotics have been discovered.

The worms were also used during the American Civil War to prevent gangrene.

And in the French trenches of World War I, doctors noted that wounds with worms in them were less likely to be infected and healed faster, with soldiers being less exposed to the risk of dying from wounds.

Because of the antibiotic resistance crisis, the interest in crawling insects has re-emerged.

Worms do not eat damaged tissues directly, but release saliva that contains enzymes that destroy bacteria and dead cells.

These enzymes also increase the production of chemicals in the immune system that help kill bacteria.

The larvae approved by the FDA as a "medical device" in 2004 for chronic or unhealed wounds. NHS also offers larvae therapy for gangrene.

These larvae are specially reared in a laboratory using eggs that have been treated to remove bacteria. Without this treatment, worms can actually introduce wound infections.

The worms are then placed on the damaged site and covered with gauze.

Although the larvae are equally effective when they are free, covering them with a dressing reduces the patient's anxiety that the worm-like creatures can crawl them all over the place.

Worms are generally left for a period of two to four days or until they stop eating or become adult flies.

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