Coronavirus-stricken father needed his leg amputated after the infection 'tore through' his body and left him in a coma for five weeks

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  • Anthony Earl caught virus in April, placed in coma after developing pneumonia
  • Londoner developed blood clots in left leg, which cut off circulation to the limb 
  • Covid infection also triggered sepsis, which made blood flow to his leg worse 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
  • Slurred speech or confusion
  • Extreme shivering or muscle pain
  • Passing no urine in a day
  • Severe breathlessness
  • It feels like you are dying
  • Skin mottled or discoloured
  • Fast breathing
  • Fits or convulsions
  • Mottled, bluish or pale skin
  • Rashes that do not fade when pressed
  • Lethargy
  • Feeling abnormally cold

Anthony Earl, 59, is one of a growing number of Covid-19 patients to suffer from the nasty complication of the disease, which can also lead to strokes and heart attacks (pictured with his wife Catherine)

Anthony Earl, 59, is one of a growing number of Covid-19 patients to suffer from the nasty complication of the disease, which can also lead to strokes and heart attacks (pictured with his wife Catherine)

The delivery driver, of Greenwich, caught the virus in April and was admitted to hospital after developing pneumonia (pictured with his wife before he became infected)

The delivery driver, of Greenwich, caught the virus in April and was admitted to hospital after developing pneumonia (pictured with his wife before he became infected)

He also developed sepsis in response to the infection, a fatal immune-overreaction which makes blood clots more severe and circulation worse (pictured with his wife on holiday before he was infected)

He also developed sepsis in response to the infection, a fatal immune-overreaction which makes blood clots more severe and circulation worse (pictured with his wife on holiday before he was infected)

A father who fell critically ill with coronavirus had to have his leg amputated when the infection triggered deadly blood clots.

Anthony Earl, 59, is one of a growing number of Covid-19 patients to suffer from the nasty complication of the disease, which can also lead to strokes and heart attacks. 

The delivery driver, of Greenwich, South East London, caught the virus in April and was admitted to hospital after developing pneumonia.

Doctors battling to save Mr Earl’s life were forced to place him in a five-week coma and hook him up to a ventilator when his condition deteriorated and his lungs started to fail.

Covid-19 caused him severe thrombosis, the medical term for blood clots, in his left leg which cut off circulation to his limb.

He also developed sepsis in response to the infection, a fatal immune-overreaction which makes blood clots more severe and circulation worse.

The tissue in his left leg began to die and rot after being starved of blood, oxygen and nutrients – leaving doctors no choice but to amputate it. 

His care worker wife Catherine told the Sun: ‘He was admitted [to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich] for a few days before his condition worsened.

‘And therefore he had to be taken to intensive care and placed into a medically induced coma to help his body battle the virus. 

‘One of the main clots was situated within his left leg and as it was a cause for concern, he was transferred to St Thomas’ Hospital where I had been only a matter of weeks beforehand.’

While experts are unsure why the virus causes the blockages, there are three main theories: 

CYTOKINE STORM 

The prevailing theory is that it is the result of a an immune overreaction called a ‘cytokine storm’.  

Cytokines are chemical-signaling molecules which guide a healthy immune response. 

They tell immune cells to attack viral molecules in the body.

But in some people, this resonpse goes into overdrive and immune cells start attacking  healthy tissue as well, known as a cytokine storm. 

As blood vessels become damaged they can leak, causing blood pressure to drop and driving up the chance of clots forming.   

BYPRODUCT OF INFECTION 

Other scientists say the surge in strokes may be a byproduct of the way COVID-19 invades the human body. 

Professor Ian Jones, a virologist at the University of Reading, told MailOnline: ‘Covid binds to an enzyme called ACE2 which is on the surface of the cell.

‘It simply uses it as a way of attaching itself but in doing so the enzyme function of ACE2 is reduced. 

‘The consequence of this is an imbalance of hormones called Angiotensin I and Angiotensin II which together regulate blood pressure.

‘It could be related to the increase in strokes reported.’ 

VIRUS’ UNIQUE SHAPE

Dr Robert Bonow, a professor of cardiology at Northwestern University, said it may be the coronavirus’ unique shape that is causing the bloodclotting issues.

He said the virus’ spikes, which latch onto receptors in cells, can also attach to blood vessels. 

Once they dock onto these blood vessel cells, the viral particles can trigger damage to these as well as to heart muscle, Dr Bonow says. 

 

‘It took two days for it to kill his leg. Sadly, the clot in his left leg had ceased the blood supply to his limb and it was amputated mid-thigh in an attempt to save his life.’

Mrs Earl and the couple’s daughter Nicole, 21, said the way his condition deteriorated so quickly was like a ‘horror story’. 

‘He was so fit before, it just tore through him,’ she added.

Mr Earl is now awake, able to speak and is working on building his strength to be able to return home after fighting off the virus. 

Doctors say one in three patients who fall severely ill with coronavirus develop dangerous blood clots that may be contributing to their deaths.

The clots, also known as thrombosis, can become fatal if they migrate to major organs in the body and cut off their blood supply.

The blockages can trigger heart attacks, strokes, organ failure and the fatal lung condition pulmonary embolism.

Severe inflammation – an overreaction by the immune system to Covid-19 infection – is thought to be the cause of the blood clots.

Clots that start in the lower body can migrate to the lungs, causing a deadly blockage called a pulmonary embolism – a common killer of Covid-19 patients.

Blockages near the heart can lead to a heart attack, another common cause of death in infected people. And clots above the chest can cause strokes.

Scientists aren’t sure why the virus causes clots – but they believe it could be the result of a an immune overreaction called a ‘cytokine storm’.

Cytokines are chemical-signaling molecules which guide a healthy immune response. They tell immune cells to attack viral molecules in the body.

But in some patients, this process goes into overdrive and immune cells begin destroying healthy tissues.

This can lead to damaged blood vessels which leak and cause blood pressure to plummet, driving up the chance of clots forming, according to Dr Jamie Garfield from Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia.

Other scientists say the clots be a byproduct of the way Covid-19 invades the human body.

Professor Ian Jones, a virologist at the University of Reading, told MailOnline: ‘Covid binds to an enzyme called ACE2 which is on the surface of the cell. It simply uses it as a way of attaching itself but in doing so the enzyme function of ACE2 is reduced.

‘The consequence of this is an imbalance of hormones called Angiotensin I and Angiotensin II which together regulate blood pressure. It could be related to the increase in strokes reported.’

Sepsis patients sometimes develop blood clots which prevent blood from flowing to their fingers, hands, arms, feet, toes and legs. When not enough blood can reach the limbs, the flesh begins to die, turn black and rot.

Sepsis occurs when the body reacts to an infection by attacking its own organs and tissues.

Some 44,000 people die from sepsis every year in the UK. Worldwide, someone dies from the condition every 3.5 seconds. 

Sepsis has similar symptoms to flu, gastroenteritis and a chest infection.

These include:

Symptoms in children are:

Under fives may be vomiting repeatedly, not feeding or not urinating for 12 hours. 

Anyone can develop sepsis but it is most common in people who have recently had surgery, have a urinary catheter or have stayed in hospital for a long time.

Other at-risk people include those with weak immune systems, chemotherapy patients, pregnant women, the elderly and the very young.

Treatment varies depending on the site of the infection but involves antibiotics, IV fluids and oxygen, if necessary.

Source: UK Sepsis Trust and NHS Choices



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