Brave mum sees son’s first day at school after fighting back from illness

Claire Hutcheon with partner Damien Lord and sons Aidan (5), Logan (3) and Dylan (22 months). Picture: Michael Gillen
Claire Hutcheon with partner Damien Lord and sons Aidan (5), Logan (3) and Dylan (22 months). Picture: Michael Gillen
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Brave mum Claire Hutcheon watched her eldest son start school this week – and admitted it was a day she feared that she might not see.

Only 16 months ago she was fighting for her life after being struck down by a mystery infection.

My goal was always to recover and be with my boys

Claire Hutcheon

Tragically, it spread throughout her body and doctors were forced to amputate her right leg above the knee.

But her fighting spirit saw the 32-year-old mum-of-three make a remarkable recovery.

She had to learn to walk again with a prosthetic limb, at the same time as her youngest son, Dylan, was taking his first steps.

Yesterday, she saw Aidan (5) start at Westquarter Primary School.

Claire said: “I want to live as normal a life as possible. Rather than think about the negatives, I’m happy that I’m here for my three boys.

“My goal was always to recover and be with them.”

Partner Damien Lord (34) is taking part in an Iron Ride 180 kilometre cycle challenge next month to raise cash for Forth Valley Royal Hospital’s intensive care unit as a thank you for saving Claire’s life.

What should have been a normal Easter holiday weekend quickly turned into a nightmare for Damian and his young family.

Claire became unwell and as her condition deteriorated rapidly she was rushed into the intensive care unit at Forth Valley Royal Hospital.

As doctors battled to discover what was wrong the mum-of-three suffered organ failure with her blood vessels, kidneys and liver shutting down.

Recalling the events of April 2014, Damian said: “The team in the ICU works so hard for Claire. The first night was a living hell for me, but the staff gave me hope that the longer they worked, the more likely she would pull through.”

Doctors finally discovered Claire was suffering from a streptococcal bacterial infection, similar to what gives you a sore throat, but for some reason it had gone into her blood stream, infecting all areas of her body.

She was unconscious for two weeks and in intensive care for six weeks.

Sadly, the infection had spread so quickly doctors couldn’t save her right leg which was amputated above the knee and she lost the muscles from the front of her other leg. Both her arms were also affected where diseased tissue was cut away.

She was discharged from Forth Valley four months later, before spending a month at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee undergoing intensive physiotherapy and learning to walk again with a prosthetic limb.

Speaking from their Redding home, Claire said: “Dylan, whose now 22 months, was learning to walk at the same time. It was tough but I was determined to lead a normal life.

“We’ve had some adaptations done to the house, like a stairlift, but I didn’t want too much as I want to live normally.

“It was hard being away from the boys for a month, but it let me really concentrate on learning to walk again – it was a lot tougher than I thought it would be.”

She is already back at work with Falkirk Community Trust. Having previously been a lifeguard, she is now on the reception at Grangemouth Sports Stadium.

Damian is a physical activities referral consultant with FCT’s Active Forth helping other people get back to fitness. He has spent months helping Claire with her rehabilitation.

She said: “He’s been the perfect person to help me. I’m back driving again and that’s great as I don’t feel so dependent on other people.”

Damian is hoping to raise £2000 as a ‘thank you’ to the ICU staff and on September 20 will take part in the Iron Ride in the Tayside Hills. He hopes to do the 180 kilometre cycle in six and a half hours.

Claire added: “We also want to say thank you to all family and friends who have been so supportive in the last 16 months.”

You can donate by visiting Damian’s JustGiving page.