Derek’s Story – A Peritonitis Survivor’s Story

In 1950, as a 7 year old boy, I was rushed to the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital in Pendlebury, Manchester, with acute peritonitis. I was put on the ‘free list’ at the hospital, which is reserved for the gravely ill. I believe the reason I developed this infection was down to a locum family doctor treating me for an upset tummy: several days went by without any improvement, until I was eventually taken away to hospital. Much later, my relieved parents would tell people, “penicillin saved his life”.

The hospital ward was laid out in the old “Florence Nightingale” fashion, with a nurse sitting in the middle at a wooden table, all day and all night. She would watch over us in the absence of our own mothers, who were only allowed to visit on Wednesdays and on the weekends!

The doctors gave me the new wonder drug penicillin, and I was in the hospital for almost two months recovering. The infection caused nasty abscesses on my legs, for which I was given penicillin again.

I eventually did make a full recovery, thanks to that new wonder drug. Penicillin certainly saved my life.

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