Mavis’ Story – Healing a debilitating arterial ulcer

Mavis is an 89-year-old lady who was referred to Wesley Hyperbaric by her vascular surgeon in a final attempt to save her leg from amputation. Mavis’s story began when she walked under a gum tree where a small branch was located. She stood on the branch and in turn, it pierced her left ankle. Her wound started to ooze and over time formed into an ulcer.


When Mavis arrived at Wesley Hyperbaric she had already undergone all the reasonable treatments available to improve the blood flow to her leg, but unfortunately it hadn’t improved. She had a debilitating arterial ulcer to her left leg for over six months at the time of her first review at the WCHM. Her ulcers were painful and she had significant weeping from them. She was sleeping in a chair with her leg down to help blood circulation and as a consequence, her leg was quite swollen. Re-perfusion of her leg was an option but this was considered a significant risk.

Mavis told us -“My specialist said that if they couldn’t cure my ulcer it would mean an amputation. I said to him, ‘Please, never take my leg off.’”
When she first arrived at the WCHM she was very apprehensive and had intense discussions before allowing the nurses to treat her wound. After a couple of weeks, this apprehension passed and she realised that she was in good hands and that the team was focussed on ensuring that she would not lose her leg.


Over the course of her 49 hyperbaric treatments, she developed close friendships with the WCHM team and other people receiving treatment.
After her hyperbaric treatments were completed Mavis received outpatient wound care on a regular basis over three months. In that time, she went from only being able to sleep in a chair due to the pain in her leg, to sleeping back in her normal bed. Mavis’s remarks were, “I have been the happiest person and everybody can see the change in me because I’m back to being myself after I’d say at least 7 months of going through extreme pain and being unable to lie down. It’s only been the last couple of months that I’ve been able to lie in bed.”

During one of her visits to the WCHM, Mavis mentioned her 90th birthday was approaching and she would love to be able to spend it in the surf on the Gold Coast.


The arterial ulcer to her left leg healed completely 2 weeks before her birthday and the WCHM team organised a morning at the Gold Coast where Mavis was able to enjoy seawater on her legs for the first time in years.

Mavis reported, “I can’t speak highly enough for everybody concerned at the Wesley Hyperbaric Centre and that’s all the doctors, all the nurses and all the new friends I have made in there. I did wish to swim in the sea for my birthday and that wish has been fulfilled. They saved my leg and I can now just about run up the beach.”
The team at the Wesley Hyperbaric would like to thank the Coolangatta Surf Life Saving Club and their Team Captain for making Mavis’s birthday possible.