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Family’s grief as dad nearly dies of flesh-eating disease

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A father nearly died of a flesh-eating disease which left him “swelling up” and “going black and blue”.

Matthew Stancer, 51, has necrotising fasciitis, a life-threatening infection which can happen if a wound gets infected, and he had to undergo surgery immediately or risk “being dead in 24 hours”.

During the 18-hour operation, dad-to-two Matthew was put on a ventilator but this caused further complications and he now has just 18 per cent lung capacity.

There is treatment available – but it is expensive and only on offer at clinics in the US. The cutting-edge stem cell treatment would reverse the impact of the ventilator.

Matthew’s 17-year-old daughter Eve is fundraising to help the man.

Speaking to Teesside Live, the teenager said: “It can happen to anyone, it’s not a contagious thing, it just happens.

“Nobody actually knew what was going on. When he was in hospital, none of the nurses knew what was happening, because he was swelling up and going black and blue.

“He was unrecognisable. There was a new doctor in the ward that day and the nurse asked the doctor to take a look.

“The doctor turned around and said we need to get him into surgery now or he is going to be dead in 24 hours. It was a scary time for him.”

Matthew was diagnosed in 2013 at Salford Royal Hospital but the illness has worsened in the 10 years since.

Medics were initially puzzled when the dad started “swelling up” and “going black and blue”.

Eve and her brother Tyler, who live with their mum in Skelton-in-Cleveland, North Yorkshire, spent weekends with their dad growing up.

But Eve thought her father “didn’t want to see us” when he first experienced his health challenges.

She said: “Being a child, I just thought oh well maybe he doesn’t want to see us. Then six months later my uncle rang and he was like you need to get to the hospital now he is going to die.

“We went and me and my brother walked into the room and were like ‘who is that?’ He looked so different and it was just such a hard thing to see – your own dad being unrecognisable.”

When Matthew finally had the surgery, he nearly lost both of his legs. Eve said he was woken up halfway through and asked if the surgeons could have permission to amputate his legs if needed, which he signed.

Part of the surgery saw Matthew have huge amounts of skin and the flesh removed. Thankfully, he still had his legs when he woke up.

Eve said: “He was put on a ventilator and he woke up and he couldn’t breathe. He was on it for so long it had completely damaged his lungs.”

Eve said it was heartbreaking to see Matthew, a former car salesman, go from being “a fit and healthy person” to “not being able to breathe.” She continued: “If he doesn’t get this treatment, he has got a year to live.

“It is difficult to do anything. He has a housekeeper who cooks and cleans and does the shopping and stuff because he is unable to do any of that.

“Even to make a cup of tea is really difficult. He can walk, but it’s the getting out of breath and he just spirals.”

The covid pandemic made things trickier for Eve to see her dad, who now lives near Worcester, as it was “not logical” to get on the train to visit him due to concerns about picking up the virus and passing it on.

If Matthew is unable to get the money for his treatment, he will have to go on the transplant list.

“There are 2,000 people on the transplant list for a lung transplant at the minute. They only do 187 transplants a year, and there are 2,000 in front of him – so you are looking at 10 years, and he’d be dead by then,” Eve said.

The former car salesman has spent the last decade searching to get treatment. The cutting-edge stem cell, electro, and stretch therapy in the US works to regenerate tissue, with the other therapies helping clear and strengthen the lungs.

Eve said: “It regenerates the tissue and reverses the effects of what the ventilator did.

“The stretch therapy, because he has got osteoporosis as well from not being able to do much, reverses the effects of that as well. But it is pretty expensive.

“He went for a two-week trial last year and that cost him £30,000. He spent his whole life savings on it.

“That was only for two weeks, and he needs to go for three months this time to get the correct amount.”

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