14/08/2014 16:50 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Toddler Contracted Flesh-Eating Bug After Falling And Cutting His Forehead

Flesh-eating bug rips through toddler's body

Eighteen-month-old Frankie Mould was left in a coma for nine days, and spent six weeks in hospital after the lethal bacterial infection Necrotising Fasciitis ravaged his body.

His mum Lucy Dove, 25, said she thinks the bug entered Frankie's body through a cut he had on his forehead around three weeks before he fell ill.

She had originally taken him to the doctors when he began suffering flu like symptoms. The little boy was screaming in pain and and did not want to be picked up.

Doctors initially thought he had a viral infection, but while waiting for results of a urine test to come back, Lucy noticed a lump on his back, prompting medics to admit him to hospital, where a MRI scan revealed the shocking reason for his ill health.

"It was an extremely frightening experience," she told The Sun. "We were told several times to prepare ourselves, that he might not pull through."

Frankie lost a huge amount of skin as the bug ate away at the muscle in his thigh and behind his shoulder blade.

"It could have spread even further from those points," Lucy said. "Luckily it didn't. Frankie is very lucky to be alive."

Surgeons carried out a nine-hour operation on little Frankie, with a team of plastic surgeons digging out the infected tissue.

Despite the length of time he spent in theatre, not all of the infection could be removed. After the first round of surgery, Frankie was pumped full of antibiotics to stop a further spread, and the following day, was back in the operating theatre for five and a half hours more surgery.

Peter Hodgkinson, lead surgeon at Great North Children's Hospital in Newcastle, said that Frankie was 'one very sick child'.

"Most of the team hadn't seen a flesh eating infection in a child so young," he said. "This is an awful bacteria to get because it acts like no other. It destroys everything in its path. Antibiotics don't work, they just slow its progress. The only way to get rid of it is to cut and dig it out. Then you just have to pray it hasn't spread to another part of the body to start again."

He added that as the bacteria multiply, they release toxins that kill tissue and cuts off blood flow to the area placing patients at risk of having limbs amputated.

Frankie's brave mum said the wait while he was in surgery was agonising.

"But we knew the hospital was doing its best," she said. "As soon as we had go to Newcastle they had specialist teams waiting for Frankie."

A week after his life-saving surgery Frankie had more surgery to protect his body from further damage as surgeons harvested skin from his leg and stretched it to cover his back.

Frankie will need more skin grafts as he grows, but is now back home in Sunderland with his mum and dad, Wayne.

"It's a relief. For last week or two he's been a little stir crazy. But the doctors need to be sure the graft has healed well," Lucy said.

Lucy said she owes Frankie's life to the team who worked on him.

"They were remarkably swift in getting him into the operating theatre. The infection was spreading at a frightening rate. I'm convinced their speedy action saved his life," she said.