Irish man (25) almost loses leg - and life - after contracting flesh-eating disease while travelling
A young Irish man's dream holiday quickly turned into a nightmare after he fell victim to a rare flesh eating disease while travelling in Asia.
Ben Whiteside (25) had been exploring the region with his girlfriend Anneka Shally when he contracted necrotising fasciitis, a rapidly progressive bacteria which can take a life in a matter of days if left untreated.
The couple were based in Laos at the time they realised that Ben was seriously ill but the hospital there was not equipped to deal with his condition.
Ben, from Co Down, was airlifted to Bangkok Hospital where a specialised surgical team operated on him immediately.
Anneka has praised the medical team in Thailand for their speedy actions - and attributes their expertise in saving her boyfriend's life.
However, because of the severity of Ben's condition, the young man must remain in the hospital in Bangkok until the infection is fully cleared from his body.
The Queen's University graduate will then need to be transported to London where he will continue to receive medical treatment, closer to home and under the NHS system.
However, the couple have already incurred significant costs due to Ben's emergency medical treatment thus far.
"Ben was incredibly lucky to come out of this as strong as he has, however the treatment which saved his life is totalling at quite a significant cost," Anneka said.
A fundraising campaign has been launched in an attempt to recoup some of the couple's financial expense.
With a target of £20,000 (€28,300), the online appeal has proven extremely successful - raising over £14,000 in less than 24 hours.
"We have been truly overwhelmed by the response to this campaign," Anneka said.
"I set a goal of 20K aspiring to raise half the funds to cover Ben’s medicals fees and looming repatriation costs."
Anyone looking to donate to Ben's campaign can visit www.gofundme.com/benwhiteside