Calls to address 'staggering' number of Australians losing limbs to diabetes
What began as a pin-hole sized lesion on the bottom of Alan Tillotson's foot quickly turned into a nasty infection, leading to the amputation of his leg.
Like many people with diabetes, the 65-year-old country Victorian truck driver isn't quite sure how the wound first developed.
It might have been something as minor as a small stone in his thong.
But poor circulation meant the tiny ulcer would not heal, and quickly turned into to a much larger problem.
"I was first diagnosed with diabetes when I went to have my eyes checked," he said.
"It wasn't until four years later, two years ago, that all the ulcers started. I'd come into hospital, they'd keep me in for three or four weeks. These ulcers kept on flaring up.
"The last ulcer affected the bone ... so it was either get rid of it earlier, or lose the whole leg completely."
Having already had his toes removed, Mr Tillotson decided to have his leg removed beneath the knee to prevent further spread.
His surgery is one of just an estimated 4,400 diabetes-related amputations occurring in Australia each year.
"It's a staggering number," Diabetes Australia CEO Greg Johnson said.
"Today in Australian hospitals, around 12 people will undergo a diabetes-related amputation ... it's something that's not understood by the public, and we really need to do more, because most of this is preventable."
According to Diabetes Australia, the problem is on the rise, and is the focus of this year's National Diabetes Week campaign.
People who have type 1 and type 2 diabetes are at risk.
However, there is no formal national reporting system to monit Continue reading