MP says my feet and hands were amputated after sepsis.


  • By Helen Kate, Isabella Allen and Kate Whannell
  • BBC News

video caption, 'Your legs and arms are dead': Craig McKinley talks about his sepsis limb loss

Conservative MP Craig McInlay is set to return to parliament for the first time since suffering a life-threatening episode of sepsis that led to the amputation of his hands and feet.

The South Thanet MP recalled the shock of waking from an induced coma to find his limbs completely black.

He says they were “like plastic…you could almost knock them over…they were black, clean, cleaned”.

“They were able to save above the elbows and above the knees,” he added.

“So you could say I'm lucky.”

Speaking to the BBC, he said he now wants to be known as the first “bionic MP” after being fitted with artificial legs and hands.

'A Very Strange Blue'

It was on September 27, when Mr McKinley, 57, began to feel unwell. She didn't think much of it, took a covid test (which came back negative) and quickly passed the night.

During the night he was very ill but still nothing serious seemed to him.

However, as the night wore on, his wife Kati – a pharmacist – became worried and tested his blood pressure and temperature.

By morning, she noticed her arms felt cold and she couldn't feel a pulse. After the ambulance rang, Mr. McKinley was admitted to the hospital.

Within half an hour he had turned it into what he called a “very strange blue”. “My whole body, top to bottom, ears, everything, blue,” he says.

He had gone into septic shock. The MP was put into an induced coma which would last for 16 days.

His wife was told to prepare for the worst, with staff describing her husband as “one of the worst people they had ever seen.” His chances of survival were only 5%.

image source, Craig McNally

image caption, Mr McKinley with his family in hospital

At his wife's insistence, Mr Mackinley was flown from his local hospital in Medway, Kent, to St Thomas' in central London, which is opposite his workplace, the Houses of Parliament.

He remembers little of it – but what he does remember are strange dreams that he believes were brought on by the morphine.

As soon as he arrived, the bitter truth came out.

Upon awakening, he remembers hearing a conversation about his arms and legs. “By then they were black… you could almost knock them off,” he says, likening them to mobile phone plastic.

He says he wasn't surprised when he was told he would have to cut.

“I don't have a medical degree but I know what dead things feel like. I was incredibly conflicted about it…I don't know why I was. It was a cocktail of different drugs. which I was using.”

'A Sad Christmas'

The operation – for all four amputations – was on December 1. He remembers waking up after the procedure feeling strangely alert.

So alert, he wondered if the harvest had actually happened. “But I woke up and I looked down and you obviously had them.”

Christmas was “sombre”, spent with his family, including his four-year-old daughter Olivia. “She adapted to it very easily,” says Mr McKinley.

“Probably more so than anyone else. I think children adjust so remarkably.”

image source, Craig McNally

image caption, Craig McKinley's daughter Olivia, with her father's new leg

Olivia had to adjust to her father's new prosthetic legs – which she nicknamed Albert, after the dummies used by prisoners of war in the 1950 film, Albert RN.

Learning to walk with her prosthetics has taken time.

First, he had to rebuild the muscles that had been lost.

“My legs never grew – I always say I have chicken legs, but now they're bird legs.

“There were no muscles on them at all, it was quite scary. You lifted your leg and you could see a bone and a bit hanging off.”

Once his prosthetic legs were attached, he slowly learned how to walk.

“After a really long time you feel like 'I can do this'.”

On February 28 – five months after he first became ill – he was able to walk his first 20 steps without assistance.

Inevitably progress was stop-start. He developed painful blisters where his skin was broken and had to stop for a while. “It was very frustrating – for me walking was my symbol of success,” he says.

image source, Craig McNally

image caption, Mr Mackinlay stayed at St Thomas' Hospital, which is just opposite the Houses of Parliament.

What is sepsis?

Sepsis is a rare but serious condition that occurs when the body's immune system overreacts to an infection and starts attacking its own tissues and organs.

Symptoms may include severe breathing difficulties and slurred speech.

If sepsis is not treated early, it can turn into septic shock and lead to organ failure.

Mr McKinley says the loss of his hands has been the most difficult task.

“You don't realize how much you do with your hands … use your phone, hold your child's hand, touch your wife, garden.”

He says his prosthetic hands are “amazing…but they'll never be the same.”

“So yeah, the hands are a real disadvantage.”

Like his new legs, his hands were originally provided by the NHS, but he has since gone outside the NHS for new hands, likening them to original prosthetic hands, calling them “centuries”. “Something from the Middle Ages” was likened to it.

“They're just blunt things – I looked at them and thought 'well I'm not sure what's better than window smashing and pub fights'.”

In addition to losing his hands and feet, sepsis has scarred Mr McKinley's gums, left his front teeth loose, and his face.

“I'm trying to grow a goatee to cover it,” he says.

'The Bionic MP'

Although his attitude is largely positive, Mr McKinley admits to having “low moments”.

“You get a little one every morning because you're in the land of a good dream, and then you wake up and it's like, 'I don't have any hands.'

“That's the feeling every morning.

“It's very easy to say – and I try and stick to it – there's no point in whining and complaining or getting down about things you can't do.

“You have to be happy and positive about the things you can do and every day I know I can do something new.

“None of this would have been possible without my wife… I wouldn't be where I am today without her.

image caption, Katie, a pharmacist, was told by hospital staff to prepare for the worst

“We [MPs] Probably spend too much time in Westminster, away from their families, chasing this, that and the other.

“Now you realize that the important things are family, friends, children.”

Before entering Parliament, Mr McNally worked as a chartered accountant. Originally a member of the pro-Brexit UK Independence Party, he was elected as the Conservative MP for South Thanet in 2015.

Despite what he has been through, Mr Mackinlay still plans to contest the next election in his Kent constituency, which will be renamed Thanet East.

And he still has things he wants to do as an MP, notably making sure sepsis is recognized early and amputees have access to the prosthetics they need. Make it.

He also says that he wants to be a 'Bionic MP'.

“When children come to Parliament's wonderful education center I want them to pull on their parents' jackets or their skirts or their teacher's and say: 'I want to see the bionic MP today'.”

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