A Sydney father who developed a sore throat while on a plane home from a family holiday is now set to have all four of his limbs amputated after being diagnosed with a severe bacterial infection.
Four days after returning home from the Philippines late last month, Jason Miller, better known as Buddy, was found lying on the lounge of the Warringah Medical Centre in a dire condition. Following a brief chat, doctors advised the 48-year-old’s workmate to drive him straight to the Northern Beaches Hospital for emergency treatment.
Buddy’s brother, niece and sister-in-law were notified of his worsening condition and arrived at the hospital to find medical staff desperately trying to resuscitate him.
Further tests revealed Buddy had contracted two bacterial infections, streptococcus and aerococcus – the second an extremely rare infection never seen by the treating ICU specialist in all his 20-plus years in the field.
“He was suffering from severe septic shock, multiple organ failure and toxic shock syndrome,” his sister-in-law Kate Munn told Yahoo7 News.
Buddy was placed in an induced coma that evening as a team of doctors worked frantically to save his life.
Ms Munn and Buddy’s mother, Clare Miller, were told there was just a 10 per cent chance of survival and organised for a priest to come to the ICU. His seven-year-old daughter, Jhayda, was carried in to his room “to say goodbye to daddy”.
But the single father, who has been a Manly ferry operator for more than 10 years, defied all expectations when he opened his eyes on November 7.
“She’s [Jhayda] so happy that daddy is alive but she is a bit scared of what he might look like,” Ms Munn added.
It was inevitable that there would be some complications due to the severity of Buddy’s illness and the amount of medication used to keep him alive.
‘A matter of how much will be taken off’
Still heavily sedated, once awake Buddy was informed by doctors and then again by his family that surgeons would have to amputate on both arms and legs.
“One of these complications has been gangrene. There simply wasn’t enough blood being pushed to his extremities,” Ms Munn explained.
“His kidneys and liver had shut down. His hands, feet, nose and lips had turned black.”
Ms Munn said there was no conjecture or debate but rather discussions about how much of each limb would be amputated.
“We’re hoping to save both knees and elbows, but there’s just so many unknowns at this point,” she said.
Even in his condition the “loveable larrikin” has used his dark sense of humour to try and keep morale high among the rotating roster of family members by his bedside.
The avid Manly Sea Eagles fan used an alphabet board to spell out the word “Paralympics” during a discussion about his pending amputations.
“That’s just the kind of guy he is… he couldn’t speak but when we asked if he was still happy to be alive, he gave an emphatic nod,” Ms Munn added.
Buddy, who appeared in the Aldi’s 2016 TV Christmas commercial as the ‘speedo guy’, is aware of the long fight ahead of him but his family are hoping a GoFundMe page that has already raised more than $20,000 will help with the “many agonising months and years ahead”.
“He’s actually looking forward to having the surgery done and trying to get back on with his life.”