Man Loses Part Of His Face, 6 Fingers, And Both Legs After His Dog Scratched Him

Lifestyle & Health

April 13, 2018 14:11 By Fabiosa

Jaco Nel was having fun with his dog, Harvey, when noticed there was a tiny cut on his hand. Little did the Manchester native know, he had been infected by a bacteria being carried in his dog's saliva.

The story of Dr. Jaco Nel

Jaco was infected by sepsis two weeks later. It's a disease that cost him both his legs and all of the fingers on one hand. He is a practicing psychiatrist who treats patients with dementia, so when he developed flu-like symptoms two weeks after, he took a work break.

I started to feel hot and cold. I was shivering yet I could not get warm. My whole body was aching. I thought it was the flu, so I went home to bed. I texted my partner and said I had the flu and was going to bed. The next day I was very ill and confused. I wasn't able to ring work, and that's when my secretary started to worry. I don't even remember the phone ringing. When my partner Michael got home from work I couldn't stand up, my hands didn't work properly, and I struggled to speak. That's when he called the paramedics, and I was taken to the hospital.

The paramedics noticed Dr. Nel had red blotches all over his skin, and he was immediately given antibiotics as they rushed him to hospital. When they arrived at A&E, he collapsed and was taken straight to the intensive care unit where he was placed in an induced coma.

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I was lying there in the hospital looking at my black, gangrenous legs and fingers. Looking down I knew I was going to lose everything. I could tell the tissue was dead. Even though the doctors had played it down, I knew how severe it was.

Four months after being admitted to hospital, Dr. Nel had both his legs amputated below the knee. He lost all fingers on his right hand and one on his left hand, and needed reconstructive surgery on his face. With the use of prosthetic legs, he has been able to learn to walk again and live independently. But the facial disfigurement had been difficult to come to terms with.

I am very reluctant to go out because I am so self-conscious. While it hasn't stopped me completely from living independently, it has damaged my confidence. The hardest part has been accepting that I am now disfigured and that there is nothing I can do about it.

People who go into septic shock only have a 20 percent chance of survival. Afflicted with gangrene, his face would never be the same again.

People's reaction to his story

And while the psychiatrist is still coming to terms with his life-changing injuries, he has been touched by rays of hope. Friends and family have been with him all the way. There is also an outpour of love on social media.

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Symptoms of sepsis

Sepsis, known as the ‘silent killer’, strikes when an infection such as blood poisoning sparks a violent immune response in which the body attacks its own organs.


It is the leading cause of avoidable death, killing at least 44,000 a year. If caught early, the infection can be controlled by antibiotics before the body goes into overdrive - ultimately leading to death within a matter of minutes.


Symptoms of sepsis include: a fever above 101ºF or a temperature below 96.8ºF, heart rate higher than 90 beats per minute, breathing rate higher than 20 breaths per minute, probable or confirmed infection.


We wish Doctor Nel more courage and love!

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