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.
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.”
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.”