Former Bodybuilding Champ Survives Potentially Fatal Sepsis Attack – Thanks To His Huge MUSCLES

Paul Jenny.
Paul Jenny.
Paul Jenny.

A former international bodybuilding champion has told how he survived a potentially fatal sepsis attack – thanks to his huge MUSCLES.

Father-of-four Paul Jenny, 47, was close to death after losing 30 years worth of muscle in just eight weeks as the life-threatening infection took over his body.

But his incredible physique was all that saved his life as it took the disease so long to work through his muscles that he got the medical help he needed just in time.

Doctors even told Paul they had never before seen someone survive such a severe sepsis infection before.

Paul, from Plymouth, Devon, was a prized body-builder in his day and won numerous awards at national and international competitions for his rippling frame.

At one time he ranked in the top three in Britain and achieved sixth place in the world-famous Mr Universe competition.

He developed sepsis while waiting for a kidney transplant in June and had to undergo five operation in six days, losing 60 per cent of his muscle mass.

Paul Jenny with his children Oldest to youngest:  Kiana, Aiden, Joseph and Sam.
Paul Jenny with his children Oldest to youngest: Kiana, Aiden, Joseph and Sam.

Paul said: “The doctors told me it was due to my muscle size that I survived.

“It took the infection a long time to get through the muscle, which ultimately saved my life.

“I guess, perhaps, it was due to all the fitness and strength that I’d accumulated over the years that my body just didn’t give up.

“I’m 5ft 5”, but I’m much heavier than the average man at this height – they would normally weigh 150lbs – and this would have killed them.

“When doctors measure infections by CRP, it’s normally measured between a gauge of zero and 10. My level was 468.

“They said they had never ever seen someone with such a high level of sepsis infection.”

Paul initially thought his sudden violent illness was the result of food poisoning.

But he later discovered he had sepsis caused by a shard of plastic lodged under his skin, which was the result of him undergoing dialysis.

He said: “The last meal I had was prawns, and in the early hours the following morning I fell violently ill.

“I woke up on the Saturday morning with a bad back. I really wasn’t well and I couldn’t move. My wife phoned the hospital and the ambulance rushed me in.

“The infection lasted three days but I was so close to ‘falling off the edge’. It was crazy. I was violently sick, but I was shivering even though I was hot.

“My teeth were shattering and I was freezing in bed. My back went and I could hardly walk, but I thought I’d twisted it.”


Sepsis is a life-threatening illness that occurs when your body attempts to fight an infection, but the chemicals released by your immune system cause inflammation through the body instead.

Paul is now recovering at home after nearly two months in hospital with children Kiana, 17, Aiden, 10, Joseph, five, and Sam, who is six-months-old.

He is still getting over the devastating ordeal, and has said it will take some time to come to terms with his mortality, and his new physique.

Paul added: “Training is the last thing on my mind. I’m mentally scared by it all and my thinking has completely changed.

“What really surprises me was the years spent building up a muscle base and I lost the majority of it in eight weeks.

“I competed at championships in Britain and internationally and trained hard to get the physique. I can’t believe I’ve lost so much muscle.

“Some was taken out during surgery, but my shoulders and my arms are gone. Part of the battle will be to recover physically, but also mentally.

“I’ve been bodybuilding and training for 30 years and competing 25 years.

“But now I’m a different man physically, so the goal now to is to recover mentally and then in the months to come, get in the gym and get back to a certain level.”

Paul needs a new kidney, and was due to have a pre-operation for the transplant when he fell ill with sepsis.

Now the operation has been postponed, and he will receive a kidney from his sister next year.


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