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A mum who lost half her belly when she contracted a flesh-eating bug says the pain was like being “eaten by piranhas”.
Amy Hiner, 40, was given just hours to live after she suffered sepsis and necrotising fasciitis following a caesarean section to deliver her second child Evie.
She developed a burning fever and agonising pain in her tummy five days after birth and doctors diagnosed a Strep A infection caused by “retained products” in her womb.
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A specialist recognised that what looked like “bruises” on Amy's lower tummy were patches of dead tissue. The Strep A infection had developed into sepsis, and then the potentially-fatal flesh-eating bug necrotising fasciitis, she said.
Amy – who said it felt like "piranhas in my tummy" – was rushed to theatre to have the 'retained products' removed and the deadly infected flesh cut away.
But mum-of-two Amy's condition continued to worsen and the black patches were still on her tummy.
She had to have even more surgery, with surgeons having to make an incision several inches deep from her belly button to her bikini line in a desperate bid to save her life.
"A few times in theatre they nearly lost me,” she said. “At one point I had an out-of-body experience."
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Amy was left with a gaping hole in her tummy, which was later packed with bandages, and a little pump put in to take out fluid and dead tissue.
Amy, from Rotherham, South Yorkshire, said she had no memories, even of having given birth, when she woke in recovery.
She said: "it just keeps spreading and you're literally being eaten alive.
"It was extremely frightening. I could feel my body shutting down, and it felt like I had piranhas in my tummy.
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In the wake of the radical surgery, Amy spent months hiding away crying and having panic attacks before being diagnosed with PTSD and post-sepsis syndrome and began three years of therapy.
But she has since bounced back – fulfilling her “bucket list” dream of buying an ice-cream van as well as starting a modelling career.
"I survived against all the odds and I've turned my life around. Now I'm happy and earning more for myself than I ever did working for someone else".
Amy hopes to use the profits from her business to finance more surgery to repair the damage the infection did to her body.
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“My ice cream business is really hard graft," she says, "but I get such a buzz from the smiles on peoples' faces. You just have to have the confidence to be what you want to be.
"We all want to see more normal shapes and sizes in modelling. Girls need to know you don't need to be anything – but yourself.
"We all have good and bad angles. It's about getting the right shots. I found happiness by accepting that I'm good enough as I am."
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