KID COURAGE; Brave Liam Gets a New Arm after Attack by Rare Flesh-Eating Bug That Nearly Killed Him
Byline: By DAVID NEWMAN and DAVID HUDSON
SMILING beneath the family Christmas tree, little Liam Vaile plays with his presents.
It was a picture repeated up and down the country in millions of homes. But it's one his parents Nicola and Steve thought they would never see. Just three months ago Liam was hours from death as he fought a life-and-death battle against a flesh-eating disease.
Against all the odds he survived - even though his left arm had to be amputated to stop the rare bug destroying the rest of his tiny body.
And 23-month-old Liam has recovered so well he even opened his own presents with the artificial arm he was given before Christmas.
"The fact that he's still here with us was the best Christmas present we could ever have," says 31-year-old Nicola. "He's been through so much, but he never stops smiling. He's a real little fighter. "
The family's nightmare began on September 9 when Nicola heard Liam screaming in the garden of their home in Pontnewydd, South Wales. "I just thought he'd fallen over and bumped his arm," says Nicola. "I touched it, but he said, 'Mummy no... it's hurting'." As the arm was swollen, she thought it might be broken, but X-rays at the local hospital in Abergavenny revealed nothing. Nicola took him home but the swelling grew worse and Liam started running a high temperature.
Baffled, doctors at Abergavenny contacted specialists in Cardiff. But Liam's condition deteriorated so rapidly they decided to move him there, unsure whether he'd survive the journey. On the way, Liam's blood pressure fell so low the ambulance had to stop so he could be given fluids to keep him alive.
Finally an exploratory operation revealed Liam was suffering from necrotising fasciitis, a bacterial infection which destroys skin and soft tissue at lightning speed. …