Quadruple amputee tells how partner's love pulled him through flesh-eating bug

John Middleditch and his partner Rose Banks

John Middleditch pictured before the mystery illness

First published in News
Last updated
Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author Exclusive by , Senior Features Writer

ROSE Banks could do nothing but beg her partner John Middleditch not to die.

She had been told her soulmate, who lay lifeless in a hospital bed, had a zero per cent chance of survival.

Within hours John, who worked as a builder and spent hours labouring for the community, went from having flu-like symptoms to multiple organ failure as he fought off a mystery flesh-eating bug.

When he awoke and looked down at his body, he thought he was having a nightmare.

Medics were forced to remove all FOUR limbs to save his life.

Remarkably though, against all the odds he survived.

Two years on, he has faced death more than four times after developing a hematoma and deep wound MRSA and has endured 26 medical procedures on his stumps.

He’s still waiting for another set of prosthetic limbs so has to rely on an electric chair to get around.

But he is grateful to the medics who saved his life, the charity Limbcare – and his partner Rose .

John says without her, he wouldn’t be alive today.

Daily Echo:

John pictured in hospital 

From once doing anything he could to look after his partner who suffers from arthritis, their relationship has changed.

Rose now helps John with the most intimate daily tasks he first learned as a child like drinking and washing himself.

His face etched with scars and the heartache of the last two years evident in his eyes, he says: “It pulls me to bits some days watching Rose struggling to do things knowing I’m so helpless .

“ I love her to bits, I really do .

"She has been my rock. She’ s pulled me through the darkest times.”

John’s last memory of having the use of his legs was 20 July 2012.

It’ s difficult for him to talk about those precious last moments of freedom when, despite feeling a tingling sensation in his feet and hands , he was adamant he would walk unaided to the ambulance parked on the Thornhill estate where the couple live.

“I used to be a very proud man,” the 47-year-old says before being forced to pause as tears fill his eyes .

Rose, 42, insisted on calling an ambulance when she returned home to find John, who had complained of flu-like symptoms, had deteriorated rapidly.

“When I left to go out, he complained he had the sniffles coming and shrugged it off. “I got back and he held his hands and feet out and said he couldn’t feel them. It was terrifying.”

But his condition continued to get worse .

At Southampton General Hospital John became unresponsive and his major organs began shutting down.

The mum-of-two refused to leave his bedside and could do nothing but watch the deadly infection take hold of her partner.

“From the time he got into that bed in A&E, I was watching this purple coloured rash appear.

“It looked like someone had laid him flat on the floor and about ten people had been jumping on him.

“Doctors didn’t know what it was.”

John was taken to intensive care and Rose was dealt the worst news imaginable.

John had a zero per cent chance of survival.

“Doctors were baffled and were coming from everywhere. They said they were doing everything they could for him but he was likely to die.

“ I was in a state of disbelief. I felt absolutely devastated, numb , I had to see him.

“I pleaded with him and said: ‘You can’t die. I need you. Don’t leave us.’

“I thought ‘this can’t be happening.’ Just 24 hours earlier John was working and everything was fine.

“On July 14, he’ d organised a party for my 40th birthday and we had the time of our lives.”

A similar case to young dad Alex Lewis , who became a quadruple amputee after a common cold turned into a deadly infection, John was transferred to the specialist Laverstoke Ward at Salisbury District Hospital.

Remarkably he came around but when he tried to lift himself up on his bed, he snapped his arm.

The couple do not know what caused the deadly bug but they were told septicaemia had set in and he wa s told he would lose his hands .

He underwent an eight-hour operation but wasn’t prepared for what he saw when he awoke.

He says: “I just couldn’t move at all. I looked down and I saw I had no arms and legs. I thought ‘what’s happened to me?’ The doctor came over and said they had to amputate to save my life.

“I saw Rose soon after and we were both in tears.

“I thought ‘what now? Why me?’ I never sat around not doing anything in my life. I was the sort of bloke who wished for 27 hours in a day and always had something on my shoulder, lifting something heavy for someone. Suddenly it was all over.

“I wasn’t scared of dying. If they’d have told me that, I’d have dealt with it. I’ve fought a lot in my life but this was something else.

“It was worse than a nightmare.”

John says at first he refused to let Rose see his legs but together, they both came to terms with his amputations and it brought them closer together.

He explains: “It was very hard at first. I lost my dignity but then something just changed. I said ‘come on girl, let’s do this, let’s bring it on together.’”

From that moment Rose did everything for John travelling by bus every day to the ward in Salisbury where she would do anything to make her partner’s life better including caring for his most intimate needs.

When she returned home in the evenings, they would talk on the phone without fail before falling asleep.

After John was discharged from hospital Rose worked tirelessly to decorate the downstairs lounge of their home where John could have everything he needed in one room until adaptations were put in place by the council such as a stair lift and suitable bathroom facilities.

She took over as his full time carer and today their love knows no bounds.

“Nothing fazes me,” Rose says.

“He’s still got his sense of humour and that’s what keeps us going.

“He means the world to me.”

John is now at home after returning from a specialist unit at Roehampton where he has been fitted with his latest set of prosthetic legs.

John took his first steps on prosthetics on August 16 last year and was progressing well but slipped at Christmas and since undergoing more operations on his stumps, he has had to wait for the latest pair to be fitted.

“We’ve had so many setbacks so we never plan anything.

“Every day is a new day, a new chapter. I got a new body when I lost my hands and feet.

“This is a new me now.

“I’ve got to learn to walk like I did as a child but this time with prosthesis, parts of me that aren’t actually me, but I’ve got to figure them out to be me.”

Daily Echo:

But despite their daily struggles, the couple hold onto life’s small pleasures to get them through the hardest times.

John created a strap enabling him to be able to insert a fork to feed himself which is now used by amputees in hospital.

And he often provides support to those who have recently lost their limbs to show there is hope.

“We don’t know what the future will bring so we have to take each day at a time.

“I dream of just being able to walk to the shops. To walk my German Shepherd Mia would be incredible. I’ve not done that since I was ill and I’d love to get back out into the garden.

"It kills me to see Rose do it all but we have to live for each day.

“This has changed our life forever but there are thousands of amputees out there and we want people to know this can happen to anyone at any time.

“It isn’t about what you can’t do but what you can do.

“You have to keep your chin up, smile and laugh daily and just accept what you are.”

Comments (9)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

2:34pm Tue 5 Aug 14

foresthorse says...

"You have to keep your chin up, smile and laugh daily and just accept what you are"
You're a bigger and better man than I am, John Middleditch. Truly humbling.
"You have to keep your chin up, smile and laugh daily and just accept what you are" You're a bigger and better man than I am, John Middleditch. Truly humbling. foresthorse
  • Score: 44

3:16pm Tue 5 Aug 14

Divasmummy says...

i know these 2 people very well and very proud of both of them on how far they have come and how devastating a disease this is. love you both very much and your both and inspiration to the world!
i know these 2 people very well and very proud of both of them on how far they have come and how devastating a disease this is. love you both very much and your both and inspiration to the world! Divasmummy
  • Score: 24

3:35pm Tue 5 Aug 14

hello there says...

big respects to you john and keep fighting, your alive.
big respects to you john and keep fighting, your alive. hello there
  • Score: 12

5:43pm Tue 5 Aug 14

elvisimo says...

Unbelievable bravery and courage. Puts a lot of moaning we read into context. Best of luck.
Unbelievable bravery and courage. Puts a lot of moaning we read into context. Best of luck. elvisimo
  • Score: 15

7:50pm Tue 5 Aug 14

kay tarrant says...

Amazing couple which proves love concurs all you are both a true inspiration to others I suffer from nf2 with many problems from brain and spine tumours my husband to is my soul mate my rock life deals many cards but your here for a reason and still have all the best bits to come yet use your time on positive things that you can do your sharing this precious amazing life together alot of people never have be proud of yourselves you deserve it hugs to you john and rose x
Amazing couple which proves love concurs all you are both a true inspiration to others I suffer from nf2 with many problems from brain and spine tumours my husband to is my soul mate my rock life deals many cards but your here for a reason and still have all the best bits to come yet use your time on positive things that you can do your sharing this precious amazing life together alot of people never have be proud of yourselves you deserve it hugs to you john and rose x kay tarrant
  • Score: 7

8:39pm Tue 5 Aug 14

sparkster says...

John you are a true inspiration, some moan at the most trivial of things when really theyve nothing to moan about, good luck to you both
John you are a true inspiration, some moan at the most trivial of things when really theyve nothing to moan about, good luck to you both sparkster
  • Score: 2

8:49pm Tue 5 Aug 14

margie933 says...

What a truly amazing couple you are. You put a lot of us to shame with your bravery.
Your love for each other shines through.
I wish you both all the strength you need to get through all the difficulties you may be faced with.
Good Luck and Happiness to you Both.
What a truly amazing couple you are. You put a lot of us to shame with your bravery. Your love for each other shines through. I wish you both all the strength you need to get through all the difficulties you may be faced with. Good Luck and Happiness to you Both. margie933
  • Score: 4

10:44pm Tue 5 Aug 14

wilson castaway says...

Lovely couple.. delt the worst hand but come through smiling.
Lovely couple.. delt the worst hand but come through smiling. wilson castaway
  • Score: 2

1:00pm Thu 7 Aug 14

sammyp83 says...

These two are very good friends of mine they have been through a hell of a lot in the past two years. They have helped others through the hard times who have had near enough the same thing happen to them like John and given advice to them. Alex is one and its such a shame Alex has not mentioned them in his story just to say a little thank you for the chat they had together and the support they gave him up in Sailsbury. Rose and John have had to give up work and give up their lives for a new one and i think its about time they started getting some help. Love you both ****
These two are very good friends of mine they have been through a hell of a lot in the past two years. They have helped others through the hard times who have had near enough the same thing happen to them like John and given advice to them. Alex is one and its such a shame Alex has not mentioned them in his story just to say a little thank you for the chat they had together and the support they gave him up in Sailsbury. Rose and John have had to give up work and give up their lives for a new one and i think its about time they started getting some help. Love you both **** sammyp83
  • Score: -1

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree