Brit ‘left fighting for life’ after catching flesh-eating bug in Costa Rica

Colin Graw, 47, is still suffering in hospital amid spiralling medical bills (Picture: MEN Media)

A British businessman was left ‘fighting for his life’ after a flesh-eating disease started to attack his body.

Colin Graw visited Costa Rica following an investment opportunity, and was due to come back in January to start a new job.

But he was struck down with a bacterial infection and sent to hospital for minor surgery.

Intense pain followed and, four days later, Colin was told his infection mutated into something far worse.

The 47-year-old was diagnosed with Fournier’s Gangrene – a rare life-threatening flesh-eating disease – which can affect the scrotum and penis.

Doctors were forced to remove large areas of infected skin from his genital area.

Colin’s sister, Tanja, has launched a GoFundMe page to raise money for his treatment.

Medical costs have already spiraled to around £ 80,000 – and his family fear that figure could rise to as much as £ 150,000.

A woman from Parbold is pleading for help after her younger brother has been left fighting for his life miles away from home.  Tanja Willis, 49, told of her family's horrific ordeal after they discovered her brother di lei has been hospitalized in Costa Rica for days fighting off a flesh eating disease.  Tanja's brother, Colin Graw 47, went to Costa Rica after receiving an investment opportunity, and was due to come back to the UK at the end of January.  Caption: Colin Graw before the illness

Colin Graw went to Costa Rica after receiving an investment opportunity (Picture: MEN Media)

A woman from Parbold is pleading for help after her younger brother has been left fighting for his life miles away from home.  Tanja Willis, 49, told of her family's horrific ordeal after they discovered her brother di lei has been hospitalized in Costa Rica for days fighting off a flesh eating disease.  Tanja's brother, Colin Graw 47, went to Costa Rica after receiving an investment opportunity, and was due to come back to the UK at the end of January.  Caption: Colin Graw in hospital

Within days of catching a seemingly minor infection, it emerged that Colin had Fournier’s Gangrene (Picture: MEN Media)

Tanja told Lancs Live: ‘It’s been absolutely horrific for him, he is in exceptional amounts of pain, he can’t sit properly- he only had a 30% 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. ‘

Tanja, who lives in Lancashire, was able to fly to Costa Rica in January but only had brief time at her brother’s side.

She’s been keeping in touch with the hospital but language barriers and timezones have made it a laborious affair.

Medical staff have found antibiotics that are helping Colin fight off the disease, but multiple open wounds means he is still at risk of further illness.

A woman from Parbold is pleading for help after her younger brother has been left fighting for his life miles away from home.  Tanja Willis, 49, told of her family's horrific ordeal after they discovered her brother di lei has been hospitalized in Costa Rica for days fighting off a flesh eating disease.  Tanja's brother, Colin Graw 47, went to Costa Rica after receiving an investment opportunity, and was due to come back to the UK at the end of January.  Caption: Colin Graw in hospital

Colin remains in hospital following rounds of operations to treat ‘gangrene of the genitals’ (Picture: MEN Media)

Tanja added: ‘I just feel so helpless – the language from receiving information and really understanding what’s going, sometimes things get lost in translation.

‘I think he was exceptionally unlucky to contract bacteria like that. He was on the beach one day, and three days later he was in hospital fighting for his life di lui, it happened so quickly.

‘It was just supposed to be a day procedure – he just got an infection and it literally escalated from something minor to him being lying on his death bed.’

More than £ 10,000 has been raised so far to help with his hospital bills.


What is Fournier’s Gangrene?

Gangrene can happen when body tissue is dead or is dying – a process known as necrosis – because of a lack of blood flow or a bacterial infection.

Fournier’s gangrene involves an infection in the scrotum area, the penis, or perineum.

The perineum is the area between the scrotum and anus for a man; or the area between the anus and vulva for a woman.

The dead or dying tissue can stretch to the thighs, stomach, and chest.

The disease is most often found in men between the ages of 50 and 60.

Men are 10 times more likely than women to have Fournier’s gangrene.

Sources of the infection can include:

  • Urinary tract infections
  • Bladder infections
  • Hysterectomies
  • Abscesses
  • Piercings

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