Community helps B.C. firefighter who lost leg to flesh-eating disease

‘He almost didn’t make it out of the operating theatre alive,’ says Christopher Won’s wife Marie Hui, who is the official anthem singer for the Vancouver Whitecaps.

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Support is pouring in for Christopher Won, an assistant fire chief with Vancouver Fire and Rescue, who had his leg amputated while on holiday in Hong Kong.

His wife, Marie Hui, who is the official anthem singer for the Vancouver Whitecaps, wrote on her Instagram page Thursday that “he almost didn’t make it out of the operating theatre alive” following a harrowing set of surgeries for necrotizing fasciitis, which resulted in the amputation of his lower right leg.

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“He and the doctors fought so hard,” she said in the post, which includes a photo of a smiling Won in the hospital holding flowers from Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim.

“We’re still waiting to be cleared to fly, but for now, we are grateful for all the wonderful messages and phone calls (and flowers) that humbly fill our hearts with love, and for our family, for wrapping their arms around us during this difficult time.”

In an email to Postmedia Saturday, Hui said they are hoping to go home soon but the doctors have not said when they will be cleared to fly back.

“We’re on a day-to-day basis here, and it all depends on Christopher’s recovery,” she said.

She added that they believe he contracted the necrotizing fasciitis in Singapore, but they have no idea how and probably never will know.

Necrotizing fasciitis is a rare bacterial infection that spreads quickly in the body and can cause death, according to the Centre for Disease Control. Accurate diagnosis, rapid antibiotic treatment, and prompt surgery are important to stopping the infection.

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A GoFundMe campaign has been started by friend Linda Broda for the family, including Won, Hui and their two children.

“We are reaching out to you today with a heartfelt plea for assistance,” said Broda. The fundraiser states that they have the family’s permission to share their story.

“While they are covered by travel insurance, the journey to recovery doesn’t end there. Once they are finally able to return home to Vancouver, they will be faced with numerous expenses, including the purchase of a prosthetic limb and the challenges of coping with the loss of income during this difficult time,” added Broda.

Another family friend, Clay Imoo, said Hui’s parents have flown to Hong Kong to help take care of their children.

“Christopher is the healthiest guy I know. It’s so scary,” said Imoo.

Sim said Saturday that his thoughts are with the family at this difficult time. He called Won’s dedication to Vancouver Fire and Rescue “commendable, and that “it’s saddening to hear about his medical emergency abroad.”

“I’ve personally been in touch with the family and applaud the efforts behind this GoFundMe campaign, which aims to support their recovery journey,” added Sim in an emailed statement.

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Karen Fry, fire chief and general manager of Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services, said they are worried about Won and his family.

“Christopher is one of the strongest, resilient and committed people we know, we know he will overcome any obstacles he will have,” she said. “We are so grateful for the outpouring of support, including Mayor Sim and council, and all of our staff and friends.”

Broda said the donations will go directly toward covering medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, and helping them adapt to the new challenges they face.

Hui has been the official anthem singer with the Whitecaps since 2011. She has also performed the anthems for the Vancouver Canucks, Vancouver Canadians, UBC Thunderbird, and many other public and private sports events.

[email protected]

With files from Patrick Johnston

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