An obese man survived a deadly flesh-eating bug because he was so big and had fat to spare.
Russell Kimble, who weighed 27 stone, picked up the lethal infection during a routine hospital operation to remove an abscess in the groin.
Within 24 hours of being sent home the rapidly-multiplying bacteria was starting to eat away at his body.
The 39 year-old was referred back to the hospital where a scan identified necrotising fasciitis which attacks the deeper layers of skin.
The deadly bug was starting to spread at the terrifying rate of nearly 3cm an hour and Russell was immediately rushed into the operating theatre.
It had already developed from the site of the abscess operation around the right side of his body to his backside and lower back.
Russell was put in an induced coma for the next NINE days as he underwent 20 operations to remove the progressively infected flesh.
At one point his family were warned by doctors he was just TWO hours from death.
But his life when doctors removed an area of flesh weighing a stone to finally halt the bug.
They cut away a two-inch deep area the size of a shark bite from his groin, upper legs, lower back and stomach.
Luckily the bug had not reached Russells’ blood stream – and he was so big he still had parts of the body it had not yet reached.
Doctors told him he only survived because he had so much fat on his body the killer bug was unable to eat all the way through it.
Russell, a transport manager, said: “I had a lot of weight to lose but being a big chap probably saved my life – along with all the work of the doctors and nurses.
“Surgeons could afford to cut away a lot of my skin and flesh which was fortunate as it was spreading fast.
“It was moving from my groin round to my lower back at quite a rate.
“Surgeons would remove a load of skin and flesh, then take me up to intensive care to assess how I was going then I would go back down again and they would remove more.
“Over those nine days, I was back and forward from theatre about 20 times.
“I had to have a skin graft from my left leg to cover some of the skin that had been removed.
“The graft was the same as two 12-inch rulers tripled and it took up to 300 staples to secure it in place.”
After the nine days in the induced coma Russell spent a further 12 days heavily sedated on morphine as he recovered in the Medway Maritime Hospital in Kent.
He was finally released on May 10 – around seven weeks after being rushed in with the bug.
The illness also forced Russell to call off his wedding to partner Verity Ager as he was still in hospital for their planned big day.
Verity, 45, spent it instead sitting anxiously at his bedside and they have now rearranged it for October.
Russell, from Chatham, Kent, has lost nearly five stone through his ordeal – including the stone that was cut away from his body.
He said: “I even missed my own wedding day although I don’t think the suit I had fitted then is going to fit anymore.”
Russell is now raising money for The Lee Spark Foundation which researches into
necrotising fasciitis and tries to raise awareness so medical staff can catch it quickly.
He added: “The foundation offered my family support during my long time in hospital and have given me plenty of time and support since.”
The flesh-eating bug usually begins locally at a site of trauma such as surgery but can remain hidden during the early stages if the bacteria are deep within the tissue.
The bacteria multiplies very quickly and the infection can spread exceptionally fast, killing tissue which must be removed .
The process can lead to other complications such as sepsis and organ failure – both of which may be fatal.
The infection may also move into the blood which could lead to death.
The bug has a mortality rate of up to 73 per cent if left untreated.