Gym-goer’s arm amputated after bicep curl left him battling flesh-eating bug

A shredded gym-goer was forced to have his forearm amputated after a botched bicep curl caused a tear in his arm and led to him developing a flesh-eating bug.

While lifting a 50kg weight, Gabriel McKenna-Lieschke let out a gut-wrenching scream as his bicep "tore clean off his elbow".

After undergoing surgery to reattach the muscle, things got worse for the 29-year-old, who claims his arm swelled up to "three times the thickness" and turned "bright red".

The civil engineering student was rushed back into hospital and was soon fighting for his life in an induced coma, as his family were told to prepare for the worst.

Tragically 'heavily-sedated' Gabriel then woke up to be told he had lost his lower left arm due to the deadly flesh-eating bug necrotising fasciitis.

Gabriel, from Adelaide, Australia, said that once the muscle tore he went into panic mode.

He explained: "I basically jumped in the car, drove about 50 metres screaming in pain. I called a friend to come pick me up.

"We called the hospital and they told me having a bicep attached was an elective surgery. Two days later, I got [managed to get] a surgeon.

"I don't have any recollection of this point, but I do know this is what happened. I had the surgery to reattach it and I wasn't given any antibiotics, not intravenously or orally.

"There's a question about where the necrotising fasciitis actually came from.

"Nothing's been settled with it yet but basically three days after the surgery, I was sitting around and my arm had swelled up to two or three times the thickness and was bright red.

"I think I acquired the necrotising fasciitis in the hospital.

"My dad was calling my friends and family because they'd told him they thought I was going to die, then it was a big surprise to everyone when I pulled through."

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Gabriel was operated on in hospital while he was in a coma, as surgeons battled to save his life.

When he woke up a member of medical staff told him they had to 'remove' some sections of his arm.

Gabriel said: "I wasn't making any sense, I was put into an induced coma for 10 days.

"The main infection started attacking my lower arm before where my bicep was. The first amputation was below the elbow. I've partially avoided some of those details.

"They then went above the elbow and had to debride [remove] the dead skin on my chest and my arm.

"I was asleep for the whole thing. I had no idea what was going on and when I woke up, I didn't even realised I'd lost my arm for three days.

"When I looked in the mirror, I was like 'oh s**t'.

"Unfortunately, I was on so many drugs it was like it hit me in the face. But at the same time, I wasn't able to comprehend it properly because I was in such a haze.

"I came out of the coma on November 23rd, 2020 and then I had a skin graft on New Year's Eve 2020."

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After undergoing skin graft surgery to try and reconstruct parts of his upper body, Gabriel struggled to maintain his balance and worked hard in rehabilitation to develop more movement in his remaining limb.

But after making a recovery, Gabriel is now determined to become a different kind of athlete by entering the Paris Paralympics in two years' time to race in the cycling team with the help of specialist prosthetics.

Gabriel said: "I'm aiming to enter the Paris Paralympics in 2024.

"When I woke up, neither bodybuilding and boxing seemed like they were my sports anymore with one arm, so I decided to reframe my life so I had a passion again. That's really important.

"I don't know what made me think of it but I said 'I want to try track cycling'. I'd never been a cyclist before in my life.

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"I'm still trying to develop prosthetics for my bike – I haven't ridden it outside for four months because I don't have an arm to ride it with.

"I'm trying to raise this money for the equipment. I have some funding to start it off but it's not enough to get the high level of prosthetics I need and there's bikes, equipment and training alone.

"It's a lot of money, very close to $1,000 a month just on my training, massages and physio."

You can donate to Gabe's page here.

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