Footballer died of flesh-eating virus after doctors told him it was tonsillitis

The parents of an amateur footballer who died of flesh-eating virus criticised the NHS over a ‘catalogue of errors’.

Luke Abrahams, from East Hunsbury, died on the operating table at Northampton General Hospital after first complaining about a sore throat.

The 20-year-old felt unwell last month, and his GP at Penvale Medical Centre gave him antibiotics for tonsillitis.

Days later, the railway engineer began feeling worse, with pains in his legs, and his worried parents took him to hospital.

He was sent home but his condition only intensified, and he begged his parents to call 999, saying he ‘couldn’t take the pain’ any longer.

A post-mortem examination revealed Luke had been suffering from septicaemia,
Lemierre syndrome – a form of bacterial infection, and necrotising fasciitis – a flesh-eating disease.

His heartbroken parents Richard Abrahams, 60 and Julie Needham, 49, have now launched a legal bid to discover why so many mistakes were made.

The claim doctors missed a string of opportunities to potentially save their older son.

Richard, a manager at Currys, said: ‘No one has taken any responsibility over his death.

‘When he first went to the doctors and then started complaining about a pain in his leg, he should have been given more tests.

‘What is the point of over the phone consultations with the doctor? Doctors need to see you in person to give a correct diagnosis and that is why he was misdiagnosed.

‘In the end he was an emergency case, but they did not see that as they thought he just had tonsillitis and sciatica.

‘I cannot say whether he would definitely be here now, but they cut corners and misdiagnosed him.

‘Whichever way you look at it, none of the healthcare providers did their job properly. W are just left with “what ifs”.’

When Luke’s leg pain only worsened, spreading to his left buttock and leaving him unable to get out of bed, his mum rang 999.

Julie insisted her son’s condition was critical, begging for an ambulance to be sent, but her plea was refused.

Despite calling Penvale Medical Centre to organise transport to take him to A&E, no one called her back.

An ambulance eventually arrived at the family’s home but paramedics said Luke’s high heart rate and temperature was down to him fighting an infection.

Two days later, on January 22, he told his mum, ‘I can’t take the pain anymore’ and the family called 111 again who sent an ambulance.

Julie added: ‘They took him into hospital for further checks and that was it.

‘We got a call at 1am from Luke saying “can you come down, they want to see you,” and that is when we were told he has a 50/50 chance of survival.

‘The doctors said he is really poorly, he has got this bacterial eating infection and it is a life-threatening situation.

‘We were shocked but thought to ourselves, “they can save him”, we put our trust in them.

‘They said this is a life-threating operation and we might have to amputate his leg.

‘They amputated his leg but said he was too far gone. Luke knew he was going to die after what he said on the operating table. He said, “Dad, I’ll be okay, you take care of Jake and mum”.

‘That’s when I felt he knew he was going to die. Luke was trying to protect us because that’s Luke.

‘We watched 20 people working on him in theatre and he didn’t pull through.’

A spokesperson for Integrated Care Northamptonshire said all providers are reviewing the case.

Until this is completed, they said it would be inappropriate to comment further.

They added: ‘On behalf of the NHS in Northamptonshire, we wish to express our sincere condolences to the family and our thoughts are with them at this very difficult time.’

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