Harinder Sandhu is about to leave Royal Jubilee Hospital, some three weeks after contracting flesh eating disease. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Saanich soccer player survives bout with flesh eating disease

Harinder Sandhu picked up the disease after soccer game

Even the smallest injury can cut your life short.

That is message Harinder Sandhu is now sharing more than three weeks after he contracted necrotizing fasciitis, an infection caused by bacteria, hours after playing soccer. According to the medical literature, necrotizing fasciitis is an aggressive form of Strep A, the common bacteria found in human noses that causes nasty throat infections.

The disease, which many know as flesh eating disease, can destroy skin, fat and the tissue covering muscles within a short amount of time. While very rare (Canadian public authorities recorded 4.03 cases per 100,000 in 2009), the disease can quickly lead to the loss of life and limb if not properly treated.

It is against this backdrop that Sandhu encourages children, parents and other authority figures such as coaches to treat even minor injures.

READ ALSO: Canadian stricken with flesh-eating bacteria while on holiday in Asia

“Get the antiseptic on it right away,” he said. “Get your manager or your coach to look at your leg, your eye or head.”

A former Canadian youth star and former professional player, Sandhu was playing for Saanich-based Gorge FC against the Cowichan 49ers for the Tony Grover Memorial Cup on March 31 in Victoria. During the game he suffered a cut on his lower right shin. After receiving treatment on the sideline, Sandhu eventually returned to the game.

Sandhu said doctors do not know how he contracted the disease.

He could have been carrying the bacteria on his skin, before it entered his system by way of the open cut, or he could have picked it up from somebody else while in the change room of Royal Athletic Park or the actual game itself by way of a teammate or opponent. At one stage, Sandhu said he thought geese excrement had infected the cut.

“There are like five, six different ways I could have got it, and they are trying to figure it out themselves.”

The next morning, he woke up with his shin heavily swollen. Heavy vomiting followed. This combination of symptoms soon prompted Sandhu to check himself into Royal Jubilee Hospital on April 1.

“I thought maybe my shin broke, because it just killed at the [site of the cut],” he said. “When I got here, my blood pressure was extremely low. My heart rate was too fast.”

Doctors later told him that the infection was spreading up his right leg, with time being of the essence after a blood test had confirmed necrotizing fasciitis.

Sandhu said a doctor later told him that if he had not checked himself into the hospital when he did, the bug could have entered Sandhu’s intestines, which could have proved fatal.

“That is why one in four [cases] die,” said Sandhu. “They come in too late.”

Sandhu might have escaped the worst outcome, but more struggles remained ahead.

Following emergency surgery to remove the infected flesh near the initial injury, Sandhu underwent additional rounds of surgery on his right leg. At one stage, he had to contemplate the choice between losing his leg and survival. Thankfully, surgeons were able to save both, and Sandhu is scheduled to leave the hospital on Thursday of this week.

Extensive physiotherapy remains ahead of him and Sandhu, who represented Canada at the youth level before pursuing a professional career in the United Kingdom, remains amazed by how close of a call he had.

Forever grateful, he now hopes others won’t have the same experience.

“Don’t overlook your cuts,” he said. “Get medical attention as soon as possible. “You never know what is going to happen.”


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

wolfgang.depner@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

Tour de Rock riders on bikes to race Nanaimo firefighters on old-fashioned pump car

Cops for Cancer fundraiser will happen Sept. 30 as annual fundraising ride getting underway

Victoria program inspires Polish student to create cigarette butt calculator

Warsaw civil engineering student creates cleanup counter to track efforts

Lone wolf eating seal and howling away on Discovery Island

Fun facts about Takaya the wolf, like his a 36-hour tour around Chatham, Discovery Islands

Flat tire, kindness of strangers, surprisingly inflate hope

Sooke mom and her daughters knocked on door of Bob and Norma Saunders seeking help

Editorial: Chemainus campground a case for use of discretion by ALC

It would be a different matter if the owners had bought a working, or even dormant farm

VIDEO: Grizzly bears fight along northern B.C. highway in rare footage

Cari McGillivray posted the head-turning video, shot near Stewart, B.C., to social media

Handgun crackdown, health spending and transit plans latest campaign promises

Friday was the end of a busy week on the campaign trail

B.C. woman photographs massive ant swarm on Abbotsford driveway

She asked what the ants were doing? The answer: war

Police arrest B.C. phone scammer linked to illegal call centres in India

Person arrested in Burnaby here on a work visa, says police

Air Canada forced girl, 12, to remove hijab: civil rights group

The San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations calling for change

Man from Winnipeg who was hiking alone found dead in Banff National Park

RCMP say the man was hiking alone on Mount Temple Thursday

Resident finds loaded shotgun inside a duffle bag in Kelowna alleyway

RCMP seized a loaded 12-gauge shotgun, ammunition, clothing and other items

Graffiti, calls and Snapchat: RCMP probe string of threats targeting Kamloops schools

There have been nine different threats made to four different schools in the city

B.C. truck drivers to face higher fines for not using winter tire chains

As of Oct. 1, not using chains on the highway when required could net you a $598 ticket

Most Read