Rare infection leaves devoted dad Darren Harris an amputee

Dark days: Darren Harris and Carol Ford were set to elope to Las Vegas next week. Instead they are preparing for the hurdles ahead after Mr Harris' shocking illness.

Dark days: Darren Harris and Carol Ford were set to elope to Las Vegas next week. Instead they are preparing for the hurdles ahead after Mr Harris' shocking illness.

Wollongong father Darren Harris was given a five per cent chance to last through the night after a sudden illness hit last month.

The 49-year-old has battled the odds, although the rare streptococcal infection he contracted has led to the amputation of both his legs beneath the knee.

Mr Harris has also lost his left arm under the elbow and two fingers on his right hand due to the infection, and is awaiting heart surgery to fix a leaking valve.

While he was to be married this month, to long-term partner Carol Ford, he remains in a Sydney hospital as his body recovers from the trauma.

The couple – who have eight kids between them aged from two to 20 – will face many hurdles as they rebuild their lives but they remain positive.

Family friend Renee Core said they were indebted to quick-thinking emergency department staff at Shellharbour Hospital.

‘’Darren was rushed to hospital with suspected cardiac issues and was airlifted to St George Hospital for open-heart surgery,’’ Ms Core said.

‘’However once there he went purple from head to toe and an infection specialist realised that while there was a problem with his heart, something else was going on too.

‘’Once the strep infection was discovered the specialist said that without the shot of penicillin given to him by a doctor at Shellharbour Hospital he wouldn’t have made the helicopter flight.

‘’He’s since been transferred to Concord Hospital.’’

Ms Core said Mr Harris had his spleen removed after a car accident as a young man, which caused some loss of immunity to certain types of bacterial infection.

‘’His body started shutting down, but now it’s fighting back,’’ she said.

Mitchell's Wholesale Providores, where Mr Harris has worked for more than a decade, has organised a fundraiser at Shellharbour’s Central Hotel on November 28. 

An online fundraiser has raised around $7500 in four days to help with medical and living expenses.

To help out email mitchell@mitchellsfruit.com.au or visit www.gofundme.com/qj7c4bnw

Ms Core said the couple was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support during these tough times.

‘’Darren has such a loving nature and is such a family man – the kids are really missing him and their mother who has stayed by his side throughout this ordeal,’’ she said.

‘’Despite all he has been through, whenever I talk about his kids he gives a big smile.

‘’They are both such great people which is why everyone is getting behind them in any way they can. They would have done the exact same thing for others.’’

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