My brother is fighting for life as flesh-eating bug attacked his genitals after routine op

WHEN businessman Colin Graw flew to Costa Rica for a businesses venture, his family never believed they would be separated for months on end.

The 47-year-old was due to fly back to the UK in January, but has been left fighting for his life after a flesh-eating bug attacked him.

His sister Tanja Willis, said she has been left feeling helpless that she can't be there for him as he fights the illness.

Tanja, 49, who lives in Lancashire, said her brother had been 'exceptionally unlucky' to contract necrotising fasciitis.

Necrotising fasciitis is a rare but serious bacterial infection that affects the tissue beneath the skin and surrounding muscles and organs.

Tanja explained how her brother had been on the beach one day, but that three days later he was in hospital fighting for his life.

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Colin went to hospital after he felt unwell, for what Tanja said was just meant to be a one day visit to hospital.

"He just got an infection and it literally escalated from something minor to him being lying on his death bed", Tanja told LancashireLive.

The infection was so severe that Colin also contracted Fournier’s Gangrene.

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This is a type of necrotising fasciitis that affects the penis, scrotum or perineum.

Surgeons had to remove the infected area via a long process, which meant removing the infected tissue, until they could see healthy tissue.

Colin has been left with many wounds on his body, which were so severe that Tanja said he had a 30 per cent change of survival.

Tanja said: "It's been absolutely horrific for him, he is in exceptional amounts of pain, he can't sit properly – he only had a 30 per cent chance of survival because it's such a rare bacterial infection and there aren't many antibiotics that can treat these types of infections."


"He is in Costa Rica, he's in the public hospital there, he's got no family, he's got his girlfriend but he was weeks in hospital where very few people spoke English, absolutely no visitors allowed, no family around dealing with what was a near death experience fighting for his life for week- it's just been awful."

Because of this, the doctors have had to trial numerous different antibiotics to help fight of the disease.

Colin however, is still not in the clear as his wounds could still become infected.

He also has to visit the hospital three times a week to help keep infections at bay.

What is necrotising fasciitis?

NECROTISING fasciitis is a rare but serious bacterial infection that affects the tissue beneath the skin, the surrounding muscles and organs.

It's often referred to as a "flesh-eating" disease, though the bacteria don't eat the flesh.

Rather, they release toxins that damage the nearby tissue.

The condition can start from a relatively minor injury, such as a small cut, but can progress and get worse very quickly.

If it's not recognised quickly, the condition can become life-threatening.

Symptoms can develop quickly, and early signs include:

  • a small but painful cut or scratch on the skin
  • intense pain that's put of proportion to the damage on the skin
  • a high temperature, or fever – similar to flu

After a few days, it's likely you'll notice:

  • swelling or redness in the area, which will often feel firm to touch
  • diarrhoea and vomiting
  • dark patches on the skin that turn into fluid-filled blisters

Necrotising fasciitis is a medical emergency that can spread very quickly. It is important if you suspect you are suffering with it, you dial 999 immediately.

The siblings had kept in touch over the phone and at the end of January, Tanja was finally able to fly out to Costa Rica.

Colin is still too ill to travel and since Tanja's visit, she has been communicating with Colin through his partner who he is now at home with in Costa Rica.

The medical procedures have left Colin and his family with large medical bills.

And Colin is still struggling each day as he recovers and is plagued with tiredness.


Colin is still unable to get home and as so far spent £80,000 on treatment.

The total cost is estimated to be around £150,000 and Colin needs it so he is able to get better and so he can travel home to Lancashire.

The family has now set up a GoFundMe page for Colin which has so far raised over £10,000.

The page states: "Colin is still too ill and incapacitated to travel and until he is strong enough to return to the UK, he has to continue to receive treatment in Costa Rica, where he must find the funds himself to cover the cost."

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In an updated posted to the page yesterday, Tanja said: "He [Colin] said he is feeling shell shocked and overwhelmed by the level of donations received so far and for all the support and well wishes from across the globe! He just can't believe it!!

"Unfortunately he is not able to reply to everybody individually but wants to pass on his gratitude to each and every one of you."

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