A mysterious infection has forced a Penhold man to have both his legs amputated.
Doctors still don’t know what caused the severe infection in Francois Trudeau’s right leg that quickly progressed to septic shock.
“They were thinking it was flesh-eating disease to start, but they’ve run every test you can think of, swabs, biopsies. They have no idea what triggered it,” said Lesley Thomas, of Beaumont, a relative of the family.
Trudeau had no injuries, bug bites or scratches.
“Even at this point, almost three weeks later, they don’t even know what they’re dealing with. They just know the infection is starting to get better.”
She said how quickly the infection progressed was another mystery.
“He’s a really healthy guy. It was completely out of the blue. Just devastating.”
Trudeau, 51, was fine when he went to sleep on July 13 and woke up in the middle of the night from extreme pain in his leg, vomiting and diarrhea.
He was at home with his two children, Xavier, 10, and Silas, 7, and contacted his wife Susanna Shott, who was working in Halifax, N.S.
Trudeau was too sick to drive, so a relative from Ponoka took him to Innisfail Hospital. He was immediately transferred to Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre because his blood pressure was dangerously low and his knee was extremely swollen.
Although he improved, the tissue on his feet continued to die due to the initial lack of blood flow. Both legs were amputated below the knee on July 24 — 11 days after he was rushed to hospital.
Thomas said Trudeau is out of the intensive care unit and his left leg is healing as expected, but his right leg, where the infection started, may require more surgery to remove tissue and bone above his knee.
His doctor was waiting until Wednesday to make the decision.
Trudeau is originally from Quebec and his wife grew up in Hardisty, Alta.
The couple has lived in Penhold for 15 years. Trudeau worked for many years at Red Deer Airport and recently got a new job, so he cannot yet receive disability benefits. Shott works in and out of the province for a pipe testing company.
Thomas started at GoFundMe account — www.gofundme.com/f/in-support-of-francois-trudeau — to help out the family. The account was created Monday to raise $40,000, and as of Tuesday, $11,270 had been donated to help with living and medical expenses.
“The response so far to it has been phenomenal. They are really blown away by it,” Thomas said.
She said word has spread to the local hockey team, Red Deer Airport, friends and relatives.
People have also come forward to help make the family’s Penhold home accessible for Trudeau.
“Every penny is going to count. I hope it keeps going because they’re going to need it.”