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by Sofia Villegas
08 July 2024
Scottish health tech saves man from double leg amputation

Scottish health tech transforms podiatry treatment | Alamy

Scottish health tech saves man from double leg amputation

A device created by Scottish firm Emblation, has saved a diabetic man from having his legs amputated below the knee.

Barry Mayled from Wales was hours away from the surgery after his feet were plagued by “horrific” ulcers that had proved resistant to treatment over four years.

However, at the 11th hour, a microwave treatment for skin lesions called Swift cured him.

The 73-year-old said the technology “saved” his life, as the condition had left him barely able to walk.

Swift was developed in 2016 by scientists Gary Beale and Eamon McErlean, who met while studying at Heriot-Watt University and went on to launch Emblation, which has its headquarters in Stirling.

Mayled said: “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.”

Complications began in 2017 when a verruca had got out of control after it became infected and ulcerated.
 

Mayled continued: “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.

“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 option was to have both limbs put into plaster, which would immobilise me, destroying my career with no guarantee it would work.”

As a last resort, Mayled underwent Swift microwave treatment, which targets low-energy doses to stimulate the immune system. After monthly treatments over a year, his feet were completely healed.

Podiatrist Tracy Davies said: “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.”

Davies owns Toetal Footcare, which has conducted around 1,000 individual treatments with the Swift device.

She added: “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 Mayled’s life, and he is now eligible for double knee replacement surgery.

The device has been backed by health tech investors and has been rolled out by podiatrists across the word to treat verrucae and plantar warts with more than 350,000 treatments carried out to date.

The technology is also undergoing medical testing to establish its efficacy in treating a host of other conditions including pre-cancerous and cancerous lesions.

Gary Beale, chief executive 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.”

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