For any pensioner, the prospect of surgery in hospital is worrying, but for Bob McReight it is terrifying.

For any pensioner, the prospect of surgery in hospital is worrying, but for Bob McReight it is terrifying.

The 75-year-old had to have a leg amputated after contracting MRSA at the old Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh. Four years later, his wife Margaret, now aged 68, was in the same hospital and she also caught the disease. She still has problems walking.

Mr McReight now has problems with his elbows. He says the prospect of returning to hospital, albeit another one this time, is shattering for both him and his wife.

"I am dead scared to go in. But I won't go if they won't let me come home. I am not staying in after the operation. If they are not going to do that, I am not going. I don't trust those people," said the retired lorry driver yesterday.

Mr McReight went into the old infirmary, since closed, in 1998 to have an aneurysm treated. "It was pretty rough. My wife had to come and clean the sink it was so filthy," he said.

On the day he returned home, he began to develop pains in his groin and immediately returned to hospital. "They discovered MRSA. They never really explained anything. They just put me on a load of drugs and drips. I lost a lot of weight - went from 11 stone to seven stone," he added.

After weeks he was finally discharged again but the problem persisted and he went back to consult a surgeon on a painful toe. "He told me: 'I'm afraid that toe is going to kill you. Come in on Thursday and I will have the leg off Friday.' I was absolutely shocked," he said.

Mr McReight learnt to walk again with a prosthetic leg and the couple were rebuilding their lives in 2002 when his wife fell in the garden and broke her leg in several places.

While she was being treated in the old infirmary she learnt she too had contracted methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. "I was taking my wife out for a wee walk. One of the nurses stopped her and just told her there and then. It broke her heart," said Mr McReight.

"She spent six weeks in hospital and two months at home on antibiotics. She will never walk properly again. Her legs are stiff."

Mrs McReight added: "Two years down the line I'm still walking with a stick. I kept asking them when the pain would go and they just said it was a very bad fracture. They didn't say anything about MRSA."

The former telephonist has a keen memory of the appalling conditions she endured. Three weeks into her treatment, her leg bled across the floor. "No one came into the ward to clean it. Three weeks later, when I was discharged, the blood was still lying on the floor by the side of my bed."

Now they are contemplating the prospect of Mr McReight going into another hospital. Mrs McReight said: "I am very worried about him going back into hospital because I have witnessed both times what happens there."

The couple say they have never received an apology. Instead, one ward sister accused them of bringing the disease into the hospital.

Mr McReight said: "I felt like choking her."

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