A BUILDER who had all of his limbs amputated after a flesh-eating bug ravaged his body has tragically died after the deadly infection struck a second time.

John Middleditch, known as Uncle John on the Southampton estate where he lived, lost his battle against the killer condition four years after it first attacked his body.

Doctors hoped they would be able to save the 48-year-old but the bacteria attacked his vital organs and his devastated family were told there was nothing they could do.

John’s partner Rose Banks, who has stood by him throughout his ordeal and became his full time carer, held a bedside vigil as his body turned black for a second time before he died.

Today hundreds of people were expected at his funeral and an appeal has been launched in his memory as his heartbroken partner is determined to give him the send-off he deserves.

Rose, 43, said: “I cannot believe this happened all over again. It is my worst nightmare.

“Me and John were one person. There wasn’t anything we couldn’t get through together.

“We never knew he could get this again. In the back of my head, I thought it would be like last time and we’d get through it together like we always did.

"I never realised it was going to hit him as bad as it did.

“Now I feel incomplete.

“A massive part of me has gone and I don’t know how I’m going to rebuild my life.

“John was my life and John was my world.”

John, from Thornhill, was given a zero per cent chance of survival in July 2012 when common cold symptoms led to a mystery flesh-eating bug that left him in a coma and doctors had to amputate all four limbs to save his life.

A staggering 29 medical procedures followed and John faced death several times.

But despite the odds, John pulled through and adjusted to his new life even celebrating taking his first steps in nearly three years after being fitted with prosthetic limbs.

Rose, said: “John knew what we had to do and he knew we had a new life.

“Trying to adapt to that new life was hard. We struggled with life, with money, we struggled with everything. But on a whole, John loved life, loved the garden and loved the people in it.

“John had all his new legs and his new arms. He was on form, he was doing really good.

“He’d adapted a drill and got a work hook he could use in the garden, he learnt how to hoover, wash up, make a coffee, adapted a toothbrush so he could clean his own teeth.

"There was so much he achieved that a lot of normal people take for granted.

“We had a lot of banter in our house.

“Life was back to normal for us. He was just John.”

However, that happiness turned to tragedy when John became seriously ill in February.

Rose explained: “He was being sick and he was very sleepy. In the early hours he woke me up with horrific diarrhoea then it was just terrible.

"He didn’t know where he was. He was disorientated.”

John was rushed to Southampton General Hospital where he spent five-and-a-half weeks fighting for his life in intensive care.

He was diagnosed with sepsis, a second flesh eating bug and a condition that claims the lives of 44,000 people in the UK each year young and old.

Sepsis can develop rapidly following even the mildest of infections.

For reasons little understood, the body’s immune system over-reacts to the initial infection, attacking its own tissue and organs.

In a tragic repeat of events, mum-of-two Rose refused to leave John’s bedside and could do nothing but watch the deadly infection take hold of her partner for a second time.

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Rose, explained: “They told us the bug had returned. This time it hit his whole body and he looked like a burn victim. His skin looked like someone had tipped acid over him.

“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing again.”

The pair were given hope when they were told John’s condition was improving and specialists at Salisbury District Hospital could operate in a bid to save his life.

But when John was transferred to the unit on March 30, the couple were dealt the worst news imaginable.

“He was convinced he was going to be okay but his surgeon came down, had a look at him and told him there was nothing they could do for him.

“He just wasn’t strong enough. He asked if he was going to die.

“It hit me really hard.

“I felt so helpless. All I could do was sit by his bedside and so I did for nine days.

“John had turned black where it was eating into his skin.

"I watched him, I cleaned him, I changed his dressings, I nursed him to the very last day. He would cry out to say how much pain he was in.

"John looked at me for reassurance and all I could do was keep saying I was there and it was going to be okay.

“The visions of watching his skin rot away then watching him die were absolutely traumatic. It was torment for him and for me.”

Breaking down, Rose added: “Now I just feel empty and I will never see him again. All I have is my memories.”

Those precious memories of her soul mate of 15 years are giving Rose strength.

She said: “The last good day we had I played his music, we were having a laugh.

"He couldn’t talk properly because his throat was so bad. He would whisper things, singing to the song.

“My brother-in-law sent him up a can of Guinness which I had given him but had to tell him how to swallow as he had lost the ability to swallow.

“All he kept telling me that day was how much he loved me. We were so in love.

"He always called me his rock and that I gave him strength to fight.

"There was nothing I wouldn’t have done for him but the heartbreaking thing is there was nothing I could do for him.

“I left the ward that night and I told him that I would always love him and he told me he would always love me too.”

On Saturday, April 9 Rose saw John alive for the last time.

“The nurses called me at 1.35am on Sunday morning and told me I needed to be there. I rushed over with my sister. John passed away at 1.40am. I got to him at 1.43am.

“I think he let go before I got there so I didn’t see those final moments. I went in there, put my hands on his face and told him I loved him.”

Hundreds of mourners are expected at John’s funeral which is taking place at 10.15am at St Christopher’s Church in Thornhill.

“People just can’t believe it.

"We were known as Auntie Rose and Uncle John. There has been a lot of tears shed and there are constant flowers being left on my doorstep from the estate.

"When I see people, they just can’t believe it. All we ever did was help people and I do feel anger and think ‘why us?’

“It doesn’t seem real that nobody will see him again. Everyone will miss his laughs.

“People look at me and say they don’t know what to say but they are right. There are no words.”

Before his illness, John was a keen gardener and his partner Rose is now fundraising to buy him a headstone and create a garden in his memory.

“We used to love spending time in the garden together. We just enjoyed life really. Just being together was enough and now we will never have that again.

“I want the best send-off I can give John. There isn’t anything else I can do for him now.”

  • Rose has appealed for donations towards John’s headstone to be sent to Jonathan Terry funeral directors, Peartree Avenue.

She has also set up an online crowd funding site https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/julia-merritt