Craig Mackinlay says ‘purpose in life’ will be saving others from sepsis

Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay has said his purpose in life will be saving other people from sepsis, after his ordeal with the life-threatening condition.

The South Thanet MP received a standing ovation from MPs as he returned to Parliament after what he described as “eight months of hell”.

Mr Mackinlay was rushed into hospital and put into a 16-day induced coma, with his wife told he had only a 5% chance of survival.

He underwent a quadruple amputation in December and wore prosthetics in the chamber, where he received tributes from Rishi Sunak, Sir Keir Starmer and Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle ahead of Prime Minister’s Questions.

Speaking to the PA news agency, Mr Mackinlay described the welcome he had received as “quite overwhelming”.

MP Craig Mackinlay returns to Westminster
Craig Mackinlay is applauded by members of Parliament as he returns to the House of Commons for the first time since he was rushed into hospital with sepsis (UK Parliament/PA)

“It is times like this you see the House of Commons at its best, where people put their differences aside and realise we are all just people,” he said.

“It is not a day I ever wanted. I would rather be sitting on the backbenches whole and complete. I have been through eight months of hell, had sepsis, lost all my limbs, but I am back, and that is the beauty of this place, that people will accept you, the House authorities will make sure that your return is well looked after.”

At PMQs, the South Thanet MP pressed Mr Sunak to ensure the Government “embed recognition of early signs of sepsis”, and advocated for greater access to prosthetics for multiple limb amputees.

“The NHS itself has recognised this morning that more needs to be done, and I can assure him that we will do that,” the Prime Minister replied.

MP Craig Mackinlay returns to Westminster
Craig Mackinlay during an interview with the PA news agency in the Palace of Westminster after he returned to the House of Commons (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

Mr Mackinlay said: “If I can save one life, because sepsis kills 50,0000 people a year, a lot of people are older people but there are a quite a number my age and younger, if I can save one of those by recognising sepsis early then I think I will have had a purpose in life.”

Speaking of his new prosthetic limbs, he added: “These are on trial at the moment, but as things go, to get them early I had to pay for them myself. The NHS will provide them but it will be in the fullness of time, it might take two or three years, and I am not convinced that is always appropriate for everybody.”

The Prime Minister had earlier praised Ms Mackinlay’s “incredible resilience”, while Labour leader Sir Keir shook his hand and paid tribute to the MP’s “deep sense of service”.

Mr Mackinlay thanked the Prime Minister, telling MPs: “He hasn’t advertised it, he has been to see me multiple times, and to me that shows the true depth of the character of the Prime Minister and thank you for that.”

He also joked about Sir Lindsay’s official dress as Speaker, claiming other patients in hospital thought him “dreadfully ill because they said that guy has got the funeral director in already”.

MPs again clapped when Mr Mackinlay thanked his family and the NHS staff who “took me from where I was close to death”.

Ahead of his return to Parliament, Mr Mackinlay shared with several media outlets the story of how he was rushed into hospital in September last year.

On waking up, he saw his arms and legs “had turned black” and were “like a plastic” and “looked dead”.

The politician said he was “surprisingly stoic” when he was told he would undergo a quadruple amputation on December 1.

The 57-year-old father of one said he wants to be known as the first “bionic MP” after being fitted with prosthetic legs and hands.

The MP is determined to fight the next election in his Kent constituency, due to be renamed Thanet East.

Sepsis is a life-threatening reaction to an infection that occurs when the immune system overreacts and starts to damage the body’s tissues and organs.

Mr Mackinlay started his political career in the early 1990s, briefly leading the United Kingdom Independence Party (Ukip) before leaving to join the Conservative Party in 2005.