Helping Hands for Mick O'Dowd

Mick O'Dowd was a fit and healthy 45 year old Sydneysider married to Katharine and enjoying life with their children Amelia, aged 6, and Thomas, aged 3. A mechanical engineer by profession, Mick loved to work on the car he is building i n his garage, when he wasn’t hanging out with the kids, cooking amazing meals or camping with the family. Life was good in its everyday normality. No one could ever have anticipated what was about to happen to dramatically change the lives of this young family.

On Christmas Day 2018, Mick was cooking Christmas lunch and, like so many dads, assembling Amelia and Thomas’ new toys. Two days later Mick was on life support with his organs shutting down. 

Now Mick has undergone amputations to all four of his limbs and needs your help.

The ABC's Australian Story have filmed Mick's journey and presented a feature programme on Mick and the family on 23 November 2019. It can be viewed here .

This is Mick’s journey.

Just before Christmas 2018, Mick complained of a sore gluteal muscle and saw a physio. He felt a bit better and continued with Christmas preparations with his family. On Christmas night, the pain in Mick’s glute was so severe that he went his local hospital’s emergency department. The diagnosis was Sciatica and he was sent home with anti-inflammatories. By Boxing Day Mick’s pain was significantly worse necessitating a return to the hospital where his low blood pressure and high temperature were noted. From this point on Mick quickly deteriorated. He was transferred by ambulance to the Intensive Care Unit at another Sydney hospital. Mick was placed on life support as his organs were shutting down. Mick had a Strep A infection in his leg causing necrotizing myositis, and septic shock.  It is a common bacteria that started with a mild sore throat, the doctors don’t know how or why it got into his bloodstream and attacked his muscles. That night he underwent the first of many surgical procedures to remove infected and dead muscle from his buttock and thigh, to save his life.

Mick’s organs were hit by the septic shock from the bacteria, causing limited functionality. The intense medication he was on to stabilise his blood pressure resulted in limited circulation, causing further damage to his limbs and extremities. The toxic shock also caused burn-like injuries to over 70% of Mick’s skin. 

Mick's arms and legs were dying, and he needed to have amputations to all four limbs to give him a chance at survival.

Mick's first amputations were carried out on 16th January 2019. He has since had numerous trips to theatre to clean out his wounds, deal with further infection, and complete a muscle flap transfer to cover the initial infection site. Mick's arms are now both amputated below the elbow, and both his legs are amputated above the knee. He has undergone multiple skin grafts, and has had to have his right shoulder replaced due to dead and crumbling bone.

Mick spent the whole of 2019 in hospital before finally returning home to his family to begin his new life as a quadruple amputee.

The future

It is encouraging that the position of Mick’s arm amputations mean that he should be able to manage well on prosthetics. Mick has begun on the long journey of learning to use prosthetic arms, and trialling different types of technology. The rehab doctors have also explained that hand prosthetics are now vastly improved. Using myoelectric prosthetics Mick should have a good range of movement, control and ability. Getting back to work, being active and involved in his family is a really important part of who Mick is, and will be central to his recovery and wellbeing.

Mick is one of the most determined people you will meet, he has never before given up on anything and it is clear that he doesn’t plan to start now! His inspirational strength and determination to live have been instrumental in him overcoming extraordinary obstacles, and give him the best chance of success in dealing with the many new challenges his life will involve.

How you can help

Life as they knew it will never be the same again for Mick, Katharine, Amelia and Thomas. Financial support from friends and the community around them, however, will make a significant difference in ensuring the new chapter of their lives is the best it could possibly be.

Thanks to the amazing skill and dedication of the medical staff and Mick’s family, not to mention his own strength and will to live, Mick now has a future to look forward to. Please help us to make that future a bit easier by considering a donation to Mick and his family.

All funds raised will be designated for Mick’s mobility, assistive technology aids and prosthetics, over the course of his life. This will allow Mick to live a fulfilling life, return to meaningful work and continue to be the involved father he has always been to Amelia and Thomas.

Amelia and Thomas are young enough to adjust to their new life and, with time, their memory of what happened to their dad may fade. Your gift will make a significant difference to the family’s adjustment to their new life and the childhood of two precious children.

Thank you in advance for your kindness and generosity.

  • Anonymous 
    • $20 
    • 1 mo
  • Harley Almira 
    • $20 
    • 2 mos
  • Harley Almira 
    • $20 
    • 3 mos
  • Judith Ferris 
    • $1,000 
    • 3 mos
  • Dawn Smith 
    • $100 
    • 3 mos
See all

Fundraising team: Mick's Crew (3)

Julia Pressick 
Glebe NSW
Katharine O'Dowd 
Amy Bendall 
Team member