‘Flesh-eating bug ate my face and nearly killed me – but it helped me find love’

A mum who lost half her face and nearly died after she caught a flesh-eating infection has revealed that the horrific ordeal has helped her meet the man of her dreams.

Donna Corden, 51, has had about 15 surgeries and is waiting for several more after she had a minor fall that left her with a small scratch on her brow bone that turned into a nightmarish injury.

"It was tiny, probably a half-an-inch cut," Donna exclusively told the Daily Star.

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"It was the next day when my face really started swelling. My eye had started going black, but nowhere near where the cut was. All around my eye socket and underneath my eye started getting black blisters."

Donna became increasingly unwell and her daughter Jayde, 31, eventually dialled 999 and she was rushed to hospital.

The mum-of-five's skin turned black and she suffered kidney failure and sepsis.

Doctors determined she was infected with a rare lethal bacteria, necrotising fasciitis, which was eating away at her face and making a its way quickly to her brain.

Donna said her flesh was being dissolved at a rate of three centimetres an hour.

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"I had life-saving surgery where they literally had to remove half of my face. They were working against the clock there.

"[The doctors] also told my kids, 'We don't think your mum's gonna pull through.'"

Donna slipped into a coma that lasted four days and woke up on a life support machine surrounded by her children. She remained on life support for several weeks.

She also underwent an 11-hour surgery which saw skin cut from her thigh and transplanted onto her hollowed-out face.

Since then she has had "15 or 16 surgeries" to rectify the horrific injury, and is now waiting on one more procedure to lift her mouth up on one side, as well as tattoo work to match the colour her skin graft to the rest of her face.

Donna hopes that the treatments she is waiting for will be the last – and there's more good news to celebrate too.

"I actually met someone," she confessed. "We're getting married."

"I didn't think I'd ever meet anyone after this happened to me."

Donna's new flame, James Olsen, is an "old, old friend" who was at preschool at the same time as her, and the pair reconnected after he messaged her following the injury.

"He just reached out because he'd seen what had happened to me on Facebook," she recalled. "He got in touch with me two years ago, it was just a quick message saying, 'I've just seen what's happened to you, let me know if you're free to talk, hope you're well.'

"I messaged him straight back because I knew him from when we were kids and our parents were friends.

"He was telling me that he's divorced now, he'd been divorced for over six years. And you know, I'm not married, I've been a single mum all my life.

"So we went out for a drive in the car, and that's it, we've been together ever since."

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The pair have decided to get married in Cyprus and are planning the wedding for June next year.

Necrotising fasciitis, also known as the "flesh-eating disease", is a very rare but potentially fatal condition that affects around 500 people in the UK every year.

Initial symptoms include can include intense pain or loss of feeling near a cut or wound that is much worse than you'd normally expect, swelling of the skin around the affected area, and flu-like symptoms, such as a high temperature, headache and tiredness, according to the NHS.


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