London - A great-grandmother had to have both legs and her fingertips amputated after she was bitten by an insect while gardening.
Susan Buttery, 68, spent eight months in hospital fighting the "flesh-eating" bug necrotising fasciitis and serious blood poisoning.
She was not aware of the bite at the time but started suffering flu-like symptoms and vomiting.
Then one day she woke up the "colour of a pillar box", according to her husband Richard, 61. After going into hospital she was expected to stay just one night.
But when he returned the next day she had been put into an induced coma, which lasted three weeks and her skin had started to turn black.
"The consultant said to my husband, 'You’ll be lucky if your wife is alive on Monday' – but I’m still here," said Buttery, of Highworth, Wiltshire.
She had more than 60 operations and spent eight months in hospital. "I was swelling up inside – I couldn’t breathe properly," she said. "I was losing skin, losing fluid through the skin, and they asked for help from other hospitals."
She was transferred to a burns unit and treated as if she had 30 percent burns, due to the condition of her skin.
Buttery added: "When they said they had to take my legs, I just talked to myself, 'Well they’ve got to go otherwise I’m going to die.' I just wanted to try to get back to as normal as possible."
She had her legs amputated from the knee down and now gets around on prosthetic limbs.
Mr Buttery added: "She’d never been ill in her life. She went to bed a normal colour and woke up the colour of a pillar box, so we rushed to hospital. The doctor said he’d never seen anything like it."
He said it was five days before the medics found the bite on her head and tests have not identified the type of insect involved.
Necrotising fasciitis is a rare bacterial infection that affects the tissue beneath the skin.
WATCH: What is Necrotizing Fasciitis
It can start from a minor injury such as an insect bite, but it gets much worse quickly and is often fatal if not treated early. Buttery, who is retired and has six grandchildren and one great grandchild, began a weight-loss plan as part of her recovery and has lost six stone.
She carried on gardening after her discharge from hospital in 2013. "I’m a little bit more careful now, especially if I see anything buzzing around me," she said. "I love gardening and I’m not scared even with what happened to me.
"I love seeing things that you have actually grown and it’s lovely to listen to the birds and be able to get outside."