A mother who lost both legs and her right arm after doctors failed to spot she had sepsis is taking legal action.
Magdalena Malec, 31, also had to have the fingers of her left hand amputated after contracting the killer disease in hospital.
She had needed a kidney transplant to save her life after having an ectopic pregnancy, in which the baby grows outside the womb.
Luton and Dunstable University Hospital has apologised and accepted the blunder could have been avoided.
Malec said: ‘Now my life is not a life, it is vegetation – a fight for life. I was waiting for six months for the amputation of my limbs, with stinking and decaying legs and arms.
‘Nothing will restore what I had. I will never paint my nails again, I will never make a ponytail for my daughter. I do not trust doctors and I am very sceptical about all medical appointments and diagnoses.’
Malec, who is mother to Paulina, nine, and Severin, seven, discovered she was pregnant with her third child in December 2014. But she and her husband Robert were devastated to be told later that she had had a miscarriage.
She continued suffering heavy bleeding and stomach cramps, but was sent home from A&E with painkillers and anti-sickness tablets. She returned to the hospital on Christmas Day and was told she had had an ectopic pregnancy, which requires urgent surgery to remove the affected fallopian tube and unviable foetus.
‘I had been in and out of hospital since December 22 and by the time I was admitted on December 25 for surgery my pain was unbearable,’ she said.
While in recovery her limbs became gangrenous, causing her body tissue to die. She later learned it was caused by a loss of blood supply due to medical staff not recognising the classic warning signs for sepsis and failing to follow their own sepsis protocol.
Malec had to wait six months for surgery to amputate her limbs, and had to return to hospital three times a week for dialysis, with each session lasting up to four hours. During this time, her relationship with Robert also broke down because of the pressures of her disabilities.
‘Nothing will restore what I had,’ said Malec, from Luton. ‘I have been left on my own, starting with relearning how to walk, comb my hair, eat, and brush my teeth. The only thing I dream about is decent living conditions with my disability and prostheses which will allow me to live as normally as possible.
‘I am susceptible to infections because my immune system is weakened by the medicines I take to support my kidneys. I am learning how to live with pain. Coping with the way people look at me is very difficult, and so is self-acceptance.’
The NHS has apologised unreservedly. Mrs Malec has received an interim payment to help alleviate her financial hardship and is expected to receive a further payout.
Her lawyer David Thomas, of Simpson Millar solicitors, said: ‘Despite recent awareness campaigns, mistakes such as this are still happening. It’s tragic.’
A spokesman for Luton & Dunstable University Hospital said: ‘We convey our sincere apologies to Mrs Malec. We undertook an investigation to examine what improvements could be put in place ... to prevent similar cases.’