Disabled Edinburgh mum facing amputation after botched op hopes it will help 'get her life back'

A brave mum who is still in unbearable pain six years after an operation went wrong hopes that getting her leg amputated will help get her back to work and off crutches – for the sake of her kids.

Monday, 15th March 2021, 7:05 am
Ann Loughton with Matthew, 19, Thomas, 14 and Emily, 11 Picture: Lisa Ferguson

When Ann Loughton went for surgery to have her right leg straightened, she hoped it would make her life easier after years of horrific falls.

But instead the single mum-of-four, from Cramond, was left with a swollen “elephant leg” and had to quit her dream job as a childminder.

After living with pain for six years despite a further two surgeries, Ann feared she might not walk without crutches. But she is determined to get back on her feet and to the job she loves, even if that means losing a leg.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Ann Loughton has opted for amputation

The 53-year-old says she believes amputation is the only way to get her life back for her kids Matthew, 19, Ben, 16, Thomas, 14, and Emily, 11.

She said: “I remember walking my daughter home from school one day and she said why can’t you be a normal mummy? You can’t hold my hand. That really got me. I can only get about on two crutches. I knew I had to try and get my life back for the kids. Even if I end up with one leg I am determined to improve things for us. I can't go through years of this and then fail. I will give it all I’ve got.”

"I get so frustrated that I can’t do my job. I’d be liability as I am now. I can’t pick up wee ones. This disaster has wiped out my livelihood. I want to get back to doing my job, I love what I do.”

But after coming to terms with her decision Ann faced another setback when a scheduled amputation was called off last March. Then she was told she’d need to go to Glasgow to get the op done.

Ann first had an osteotomy in February 2015 to stop worsening falls caused by external torsion, a condition which caused her leg to squint outwards.

She knew something wasn’t right after the procedure at Shawfair Park Hospital when she experienced severe pain and swelling so bad she called it her “elephant leg".

Following an infection and another operation two years later, Ann was still only able to walk with crutches and experienced pain so extreme she could barely sleep.

After a third operation at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary in December 2019 she was devastated when doctors said they could try again but there were no guarantees it would work.

“I had option to stay on crutches and leave as is, try similar op again with no guarantee it will work or amputation. With one leg I feel I’d be more useful than I am know. It’s hard to see your kids being your carers. My kids have been amazing. My hope is that after the leg comes off I can get my life back on track for their sake.”

A year on from the delayed amputation Ann is still waiting for an appointment.

“Docs said my referral has been possibly lost, after I was told I’d need to go to Glasgow. After months I finally got letter this week to see consultant. I know health services are hammered with covid-19 and I can’t praise them enough. I hope this gets sorted soon. If the leg is removed from below the knee the recovery will be quicker. But if it keeps getting delayed and swelling gets worse I fear what that could mean,” she said.

"This has caused so much stress for us. But I’m positive that with prosthetic limb and a crutch I wouldn’t be as tired. Hopefully the unbearable pain would ease up and I’d get some sleep. After all these years I need to put this behind me.”

A spokesman for Spire healthcare, which operates Shawfair Park Hospital, said: “Patient wellbeing is our foremost priority and we take patient confidentiality extremely seriously. As such, it would not be appropriate for us to comment on this specific case.”

Dr Tracey Gillies, Medical Director, NHS Lothian said, “Our service received a GP referral requesting a second opinion on the available treatment options for Ms Loughton and this was processed.

“In line with common practice, the referral was made to clinicians in an another Health Board for a second opinion, in this case Greater Glasgow and Clyde. The referral process took longer than we would have expected, and for that we would like to apologise to Ms Loughton.”

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.