Mum who lost all four limbs to sepsis can finally hug family with new bionic arm

By Sophie Corcoran

An inspiring mum is finally able to hug her children and grandchildren for the first time since she lost all four limbs to sepsis four years ago.

Mum-of-five Sue Neill, 52, says she can finally have the cuddles she longed for after receiving the first of two bionic "Hero Arms" in July.

Sue has spoken out about her experience and the consequences of sepsis to mark World Sepsis Day.

The condition robbed her of her nose, lips and tongue and meant she needed all four limbs amputated.

The former carer, of Chichester, West Sussex, was struck down with life-threatening sepsis after she had what seemed to be a simple gum abscess.

Sue is thrilled to have her new Hero Arm (PA Real Life)

Sue has now been fitted with a new right arm that uses robotic prosthetics in this year after her cousin donated £10,000 to her GoFundMe crowdfunding appeal. Sue hopes to have the life-changing second arm fitted laster this year.

She said: "Cuddling the kids again was amazing. I've had a lot of pictures taken cuddling them on my knee. My little grandkids love my arm and they keep saying, 'That's so cool.'

"It's wonderful just to be able to hug them again. The kids love it - and I love it. I can't believe it.

'It's wonderful just to be able to hug them,' Sue says (PA Real Life)

"The kids keep making me shake hands with them too!"

Sue is mum to Connor, 25, daughter, Kaylee, nine, Chris, 35, Stacey, 32 and Chloe, 22. She lives with former lorry driver husband, Dean.

She says she has "been through hell" after she suffered a small "nick" in her gum at the dentist in January 2017. An abscess developed a few days later and her face began to swell, leaving her struggling to see or hear.

Sue before she got her Hero Arm (PA REAL LIFE)

Despite this, she seemed to rally after two rounds of painkillers and antibiotics, but on February 25, Dean found her on the sofa with her face turning blue.

Sue said: "He thought I was already gone."

She was rushed to St Richard's Hospital in Chichester where her family were repeatedly told that she was unlikely to survive and her limbs were amputated.

With her Kaylee and her granddaughters (PA Real Life)

Sue miraculously pulled through, and then had to learn to live with her changed body, spending a year in rehab.

She said: "At first, I couldn't talk and for over a year, I couldn't even look at myself in a mirror. I hate the word stumps. These are my arms and legs. So be it if I haven't got much of them. I'm lucky to be alive, but I'm still me."

Sue pinned her hopes on the high-tech bionic "Hero Arms" and a donation from her cousin, Carmen Lewis and her husband Gary got her them. She said she was overwhelmed with gratitude and after several fittings, it was ready.

After building her strength up, Sue can now use the bionic arm for up to two hours a day.

She said: "I need to build up my upper body strength and I need to be patient. It's a big learning curve.

Sue and her husband, Dean (PA REAL LIFE)

"I've got a long way to go, but it's good to see improvements as the days go on and I hope I can wear it all day long. I have no idea when that will be - but I'm hoping it could be as soon as next month. I'm eagerly awaiting the second arm. That will be fitted once I've got used to the first one - I can't wait!

"I've brushed my hair, I've learned to pick up sweeties or little things from the table. I'm sure I'll look back on this in a year's time and think, 'Remember when I couldn't do anything?'

"Cosmetically, they look interesting and much nicer on the eye than other prosthetics. It's not pretending to be a real arm, so I think it looks really cool, robotic and colourful.

"I'm planning to wear it out next week when I go to the shops or out in the village - and I hope people ask me about it!"

She says she can already do things, such as brush her hair and pick things up from the table with her Hero Arm (PA Real Life)

Sue says she is passionate about raising awareness of the dangers of sepsis and highlighting the need for better prosthetics to be available on the NHS to amputee patients.

She said: "None of us asked to lose our limbs. It all happened through accidents, illness or people that have unfortunately been born this way.

"Our government needs to re-look at this within the NHS - it's about giving its citizens the best they can when something horrible happens to them."


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