A tiny thorn has forced a little girl into a wheelchair after seven operations to tackle a raging infection.
Charlene Kirby, 30, pulled a two or three millimetre thorn out of her daughter's knee which was the start of the family's ongoing "hell".
The thorn had broken off under seven-year-old Annabelle's skin and turned septic, leaving doctors at the University Hospital of Wales with a battle on their hands to treat her blotchy legs.
Charlene from Pembrey said: "We pulled it out but about a week later she started getting blotches, like heat spots, from her knee to her foot and her foot started to lose skin. The week after that she started getting a white discharge which turned to green."
Four days later she had her first, which would quickly turn into several, operation to attempt to clear up the infection that had spread around her leg, WalesOnline reports.
Charlene added: "They made 11 holes to try and swab and clear up the infection. The surgeon couldn't believe how much infection there was in her one leg. They then gave her a full plaster on her leg.
"Two days later, on May 11, she had her second operation where she had a cannula in her arm and an MRI scan and then on May 16 she developed an abscess and two cysts on her leg. The doctor told us that we were lucky to have taken her in when we did because she could have developed sepsis."
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Annabelle lives with lymphedema (a long-term condition where excess fluid collects in tissues causing swelling) and myelodysplastic syndrome (one of a group of cancers in which immature blood cells in the bone marrow don't mature so don't become healthy blood cells.
Annabelle was moved to Noah's Ark Children's Hospital, in Cardiff, where on her night on the ward, she was seen by 14 specialists.
The following day she endured a three-hour operation to sample her blood and bone marrow before a biopsy of the infection was taken and her leg was put in a plaster cast in order to keep it straight.
Annabelle underwent another operation just two days later where her dressings were changed and her wounds were cleaned and swabbed.
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Her mother said: "The surgeon explained that the soil from the blackthorn plant was causing the infection in her leg as it gathers poison.
"She had her fifth operation where they used two draining machines to collect and repair the infection in her leg and to clean the holes."
On Friday, June 4, Annabelle underwent her seventh operation in under a month, this time to check that her main wound near her groin was clean.
She will have to remain in a wheelchair during the coming weeks as her recovery process continues.
Charlene said: "It's been very stressful and it's a huge difference to go from everyone in one house to me staying with her two nights a week. It's been hell.
"She has been in awful pain the last few weeks. She won't be out of a wheelchair for a couple more weeks so we have got to get a ramp fitted outside and she will have to sleep and go to the toilet downstairs as she won't be able to get upstairs.
"We want to raise awareness of this to prevent it from happening to someone else as the next child could need an amputation or even lose their life."
Charlene has been raising funds for Noah's Ark Children's Hospital and a day out for Annabelle once she's able to go.
You can view the JustGiving page here.
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