'I got a verruca on my foot - I ended up facing losing both my legs'

Garden designer Barry Mayled with Brian May
-Credit: (Image: Emblation Ltd)


A garden designer was facing losing his legs and his career after a harmless verruca left both his feet riddled with infection. Doctors were just hours away from amputating Barry Mayled's legs below the knee after the common infection festered.

However, at the 11th hour his legs were saved, thanks to a pioneering microwave treatment. Grateful Barry, 73, from Penarth in the Vale of Glamorgan, was treated with a Swift® device, invented by Scottish health tech pioneers, Emblation and within months his feet were back to normal.

He said: “It saved my life. I'm still working and I'm on building sites and everything, and without my legs, that would have been the end of it. As a sole practitioner, my career would have ended if the amputations were carried out.

“At one point I was in hospital surrounded by medics and things were so bad that the main surgeon was just shaking his head. There was pretty much nothing left to try and it was a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’ my legs would have to be amputated below the knees.”

Leg amputations are a frequent complication of diabetes, which can cause reduced blood flow and nerve damage in the lower limbs. As a result, wounds, ulcers and infections can become gangrenous.

Company director and podiatrist Tracy Davis with Barry and the Swift machine
Company director and podiatrist Tracy Davis carried out the treatment using the Swift machine, inset -Credit:Emblation Ltd

In Barry’s case, a simple verruca got out of control when the relatively harmless lesion became infected and ulcerated. It proved resistant to multiple treatments over four years. It spread to both feet, with painful growths behind his big toes leaving him barely able to walk.

As a last resort, a podiatrist tried the Swift® device, which uses targeted low energy doses of microwaves to stimulate the immune system. After monthly treatments over a year, his feet were completely healed - a process captured in a series of photographs.

Barry said problems started in late 2017 and he added: “I developed what looked like a bruise on my right foot. Later, my wife and I were down in Devon and the bruise got redder and sorer, and eventually burst, becoming septic.

“That was the start of four agonising years of trying to get the correct treatment after it then spread to my left foot. It lingered on to the point where my NHS podiatrist called the surgeon in – who was shaking his head upon the sight of my feet. They took X-rays and found the infection was getting closer to the bone, increasing the risk of osteomyelitis.

“As a result of the X-rays there was a little conference going on around me. The surgeon was there, the senior podiatrist from the wound clinic and the person dealing with me directly, and they all told me that my only options was to have both limbs put into plaster which would immobilise me, destroying my career with no guarantee it would work.”

Barry's infected feet
Barry's feet developed infections which left him facing both his legs being amputated below the knee -Credit:Emblation Ltd

Barry, who has lived with diabetes since the age of 38, turned to podiatrist Tracy Davies of Toetal Footcare Ltd in Cardiff who was using innovative microwave technology to treat verrucae on her patients’ feet. He had seven individual applications of the Swift microwave treatment between July 2022 to April 2023, on five areas of his right foot and three on his left.

The podiatrists at Toetal Footcare Ltd have conducted around 1000 individual treatments with the Swift device and say they have seen amazing results for patients of all ages, although Barry’s recovery is the most remarkable to date. Company director and podiatrist Tracy Davies said: “When I first saw Barry at the practice, both his feet were severely ulcerated.

"He had seen his dermatologist who had confirmed the presence of verrucae tissue in the ulcerations, and he was desperate to prevent amputation. My colleagues in the NHS had provided excellent wound care but it was time to look at the problem from a different angle.

"I wondered if I used Swift to treat the verrucae, would I be able to heal the ulcerations and therefore save Barry’s feet from amputation? Quite frankly we had nothing to lose.”

Barry with his healed feet
Diabetic Barry Mayled almost lost both his legs after he developed a verruca which wouldn't heal -Credit:Emblation Ltd

Tracy removed dead and damaged tissue and began the microwave treatment. Over time, Barry’s verrucae and ulcerations started to reduce, completing healing by September 2023.

Tracy added: “I was amazed by the remarkable turnaround in Barry’s condition. My business partner and I have both been HCPC registered podiatrists for more than 40 years and Swift has shown the most effective treatment outcomes for verrucae we have treated to date.

“Barry’s case has highlighted verrucae infection as a possible cause of foot ulcerations failing to heal and has increased the possibilities of using Swift in such cases. This could be far-reaching in the treatment of non-healing foot ulcerations, thus preventing unnecessary amputations.”

The treatment has transformed Barry’s life and he is now eligible for double knee replacement surgery. He added: “Now I haven't got a problem with my feet. They're fine. It's just a question of biting the bullet on when I want to have my knees done. Then I’ll be the bionic man and I can maybe enjoy my retirement.

“There will be many more people who are in my situation, so I would urge everyone to seek out this swift treatment and hope that in the future more people can benefit from this technology.”

Garden designer Barry Mayled pictured at Chelsea 2003 where he won Gold Medal & Best in class, with Sir Steve Redgrave
Garden designer Barry Mayled pictured at Chelsea 2003 where he won Gold Medal & Best in class, with Sir Steve Redgrave -Credit:Emblation Ltd

Swift was developed in 2016 by scientists Gary Beale and Eamon McErlean who met while studying at Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University and went on to launch parent company, Emblation, which has its headquarters in Stirling, Scotland. Its device has been backed by health tech investors and has been rolled out by podiatrists across the globe to treat verrucae and plantar warts with over 350,000 treatments carried out to date.

The technology is also undergoing extensive medical testing to establish its efficacy in treating a host of other conditions including pre-cancerous and cancerous lesions like Basal Cell Carcinoma. The Emblation team believe it will eventually revolutionise treatment across multiple conditions.

Gary Beale, CEO of Emblation, said: “Barry's story is truly inspiring and highlights the transformative capability of our Swift microwave therapy. Cases like this motivate us to continue innovating and raising awareness so that more patients can access and benefit from this game-changing technology.”