A NEW mum who nearly died after contracting a superbug believes her life was saved by a pair of copper pyjamas invented by an Addiscombe schoolgirl. Gemma Wilby's recovery was so incredible that consultants at Croydon University Hospital have set up a trial to test the copper-infused clothing. The 30-year-old caught a flesh-eating bug, thought to be MRSA, after giving birth to her son Alfie by Caesarian section in September last year. The procedure left her with a 10in hole across her stomach that would not heal. Despite life-saving surgery, and even maggots being placed on the wound to eat away the dead flesh, the infection could not be controlled. "The doctors had tried everything but nothing seemed to work," she said. "I was in agony and thought I was going to die." But, in a remarkable twist, family friend Amber McCleary, 18, had stumbled across a potential cure – while inventing the world's first 'odourless' dog bed. In November last year the Advertiser revealed how the former Coloma Convent Girls' School pupil had laced the fabric of the dog's bed with copper – a metal with antimicrobial properties. It was designed to stop the bacteria which caused bad smells from developing, but laboratory tests also showed the fabric had anti-MRSA qualities. "I have to admit I was sceptical when Amber suggested the solution might be in wearing a pair of pyjamas, but I was willing to try anything," said Ms Wilby, of Croydon Road, Caterham. "I had been in agony, sometimes unable to get up, but within a couple of days I began to feel better and the wound started to shrink. When the nurses took swabs from the hole and it came back negative for MRSA I couldn't believe it. "The doctors told me it could take a year before I recovered but within a few months I was fine. "I genuinely believe the pyjamas saved my life." Amber, who is now studying at the University of Portsmouth, said: "Gemma is a family friend so being able to help her was really special. The fact that I could potentially help a lot more people is just great." Croydon University Hospital is now in the process of setting up a clinical trial to establish the medical benefits of the copper-infused garments. Abdul Sultan, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, said: "This clothing may have the potential to make a real difference to the way in which we treat ulcers and infection in patients. "We believe that the laboratory-based research looked very promising and there is now a need for controlled clinical trials." Amber said: "When I first met the doctors they were so enthused about the clothing. They wanted the products to go out to patients there and then. "The lab results are there to prove the effectiveness. It's just a case of putting it into practice."
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