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Real Life

Our miracle hospital wedding

The groom was struck by a flesh-eating disease that cost him his leg and almost his life, but it was no barrier to true love… The week before their wedding day, Andrew Ballantyne and his fiancée Esther Jacobson were like any other couple eagerly anticipating their big day. But their world was turned upside down when Andrew fell victim to a rare flesh-eating disease that took his leg and almost took his life. Andrew, 26, had always pictured himself standing at the altar waiting for Esther, the love of his life, to walk towards him. Instead he found himself exchanging vows lying on what had almost been his death-bed. Not that he's complaining. Andrew knows the fact that he made it to his wedding at all is nothing short of a miracle. Just seven days earlier, doctors had told his loved ones to prepare for the worst, as Andrew's chances of survival were minimal. All thanks to a rare illness Esther, 26, says took everyone completely by surprise. "He began vomiting on Friday morning and we went to a GP, who diagnosed a combination of food poisoning and the flu. At lunchtime, he started complaining about a sore leg. I just assumed he'd knocked it." His condition rapidly deteriorated and Andrew called an ambulance. But before it had even arrived a worried Esther drove him to hospital, where doctors thought the rash on his leg might be deep vein thrombosis (DVT). "The scan cleared him of DVT and he was put on antibiotics, which ultimately saved his life," Esther says. "But the rash on his leg had grown dramatically in size and one alert doctor realised the significant dangers straight away. "An MRI confirmed they were dealing with a rare flesh-eating disease called necrotising fasciitis, which destroys the skin and muscle by releasing toxins into the body. The surgeon told Andrew that if his leg was not removed he would die…" For the full story, see this week's Woman's Day (on-sale July 23)

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