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Last Updated: Saturday, 14 October 2006, 23:12 GMT 00:12 UK
'I wanted to walk down the aisle'
By Jane Elliott
BBC News health reporter

Left to right daughter and bridesmaid Susie Lyles, Ronnie Lyles, daughter and bride Katie Higgins, groom Matt Higgins and Ronnie's wife and mother of bride Sally Lyles
'This treatment saved my foot'
When Ronnie Lyles walked his daughter down the aisle in May he was a proud man.

Naturally, he was proud of his daughter. But he was also proud of himself, and of the nursing team that had made that walk possible.

Just four months earlier Ronnie, who has been a diabetic for over 20 years, had faced losing a foot.

He had already his right leg amputated below the knee, and knew the warning signs.


So when a toe and part of his other foot turned black ,he feared the worst.

"The thought of going through all that again terrified me", he said.

I was determined to seek the best treatment available and do all I could to save my leg
Ronnie Lyles

"I was determined to seek the best treatment available and do all I could to save my leg."

Diabetics have a greater risk of amputation because their condition can lead to damage of the nerves and blood vessels - they have a 15 times higher risk of lower leg amputations.

Ronnie, aged 60, asked to be referred to the Diabetic Centre at King's College hospital, London.

Here medics decided to use a new method to treat Ronnie.

The Vac works by inserting a sponge-like dressing into a wound.

It is then sealed with a special covering and a plastic tube is connected to the wound.

The other end is inserted into a device that draws out infectious materials from the wound, clearing it and using the pressure to allow it to heal.

Because his toe and part of his foot had already turned black, they had to be removed.

But Melanie Doxford, a podiatrist said: "As soon as I saw Ronnie's wound, I knew he would benefit from Vac treatment and that the device would speed up his healing process."


Ronnie said: "The vascular surgeon who saw me said that the wound looked like a piece of prize steak.

"I asked him if that was a good thing and he said it was and that it meant he thought he could go ahead with the skin graft - they had taken skin from my thigh.

"The grafts took and the medical staff kept a close eye on me, but it was brilliant."

"Had I had access to this sort of treatment in 1995, I would very probably not have lost my right leg."

I was so glad I was able to do it
Ronnie Lyles

Ronnie recovered so quickly that he was able to not only see daughter Katie get married, but fulfil his promise to walk her down the aisle.

"It was a bit of a struggle and I had the odd wobbly moment, but I was so glad I was able to do it.

"The temperatures were lovely, the bride looked gorgeous.

"I had to get around in my surgical slipper, but I was there."

Michael Edmonds, consultant diabetologist, Diabetic Foot Clinic at King's College Hospital, where Ronnie was treated said: "We have observed VAC Therapy to be very useful in accelerating the healing of complex foot wounds in people with diabetes who attend our Diabetic Foot Clinic.

"It is particularly effective in healing wounds after the surgical removal of a toe or part of the foot, which has been damaged by severe infection and become gangrenous, a distressing complication of diabetes.

"It is believed VAC Therapy works by removing excess fluid from the wound, stimulating blood flow and reducing local bacterial infection."

Zoe Harrison, care advisor for Diabetes UK said managing diabetes must be a top priority.

"Diabetes is the second most common cause of lower limb amputations in the UK, yet in many cases amputation could and should be prevented.

"This case shows both the impact of a failure of care, but also the difference that can be made with the right treatment.

"The NHS must ensure that these problems are identified early and then provide effective treatment to reduce the risk of people losing limbs."

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