David Battie giving a talk for Antibiotic Research UK

Antiques Roadshow presenter David Battie: “Antibiotic resistance nearly cost me my leg” 

Peter Gibson Patient stories

David Battie giving a talk for Antibiotic Research UK

David Battie has returned to the Antiques Roadshow where his familiar face can once again be seen offering advice to visitors and valuing their treasured items. His sudden absence from the show back in 2012 created quite a stir. What many viewers and fans did not realise was that his absence was caused by an unfortunate accident that resulted in an antibiotic resistant infection. An infection that nearly cost him his leg.

David was on his way to a talk in Norwich. He decided to take a break from driving when he fell on wet grass and suffered a complex fracture to his right leg. David was taken to hospital in Norwich, before being transferred to Brighton hospital, where he had to stay for six months with scaffold rods drilled into his leg for support. Unfortunately, he picked up a hospital acquired infection during this time – a quite common occurrence for patients undergoing surgery. The infection persisted and did not respond to any of the antibiotics he was given. In other words, the infection was antibiotic resistant.

David’s antibiotic resistant infection

During David’s time in hospital, he experienced some very low moments. After many operations and lots of antibiotics – both pills and intravenous – the infection was not getting any better. In fact, it continued to develop and spread to the bone in his leg. Without working antibiotics, David faced a critical decision. He needed to either have his leg amputated or have plastic surgery to remove the infected area. He opted for the latter and after a 10-hour operation, David now has a flap of skin that is the size of half a peach and sticks out of his leg, just above the ankle.

During an interview with the Daily Mail, David Battie said: “They were pumping me full of antibiotics. In the end, they tried to inject it every two hours’ day and night for a month. That was awful. I was dog tired all the time.”

Lifelong complications

Unfortunately, antibiotic resistance does not end so easily and those that suffer face lifelong, and sometimes constant, life-threatening problems. David still suffers pain in his leg, which can make standing uncomfortable. While he has managed to reduce the number of painkillers he is prescribed per day, from fourteen to almost half the amount, it still causes him problems.

David has told us how amazed he is that a slip on grass could end up with so many complications. Antibiotic resistance is increasing and without working antibiotics, stories like David’s are becoming all too common. Thousands of people are already living with antibiotic resistant infections and as Lord O’Neill’s report into Antimicrobial Resistance states, this is the biggest health threat we face today. Please donate now to help us find new antibiotic therapies and save modern medicine.

David is an Antibiotic Research UK ambassador. He spoke at our AGM at Portcullis House last year.