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A U.K. lawmaker returns to work as 'the bionic MP' after losing his hands and feet to sepsis

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LONDON -

Britain's fractious politicians shared a rare moment of unity on Wednesday, when a Conservative lawmaker returned to work six months after sepsis put him in a coma and forced the amputation of his hands and feet.

As Conservative legislator Craig Mackinlay walked unaided into the House of Commons before the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions session, government and opposition lawmakers alike rose in a standing ovation.

“As you know, we don’t allow clapping," Speaker Lindsay Hoyle said as Mackinlay's wife and four-year-old daughter watched from the public gallery. "But this is an exception.”

Mackinlay, 57, said he wants to be known as “the bionic MP.” He plans to campaign for greater awareness of the signs of sepsis, and for Britain’s state-funded National Health Service, which treated him and saved his life, to offer better treatment and prosthetics to people who have lost more than one limb.

Addressing his fellow lawmakers in the Commons chamber, Mackinlay thanked Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Hoyle for visiting him while he was in hospital. Referring to the speaker's formal black tailcoat, he joked that “the rest of the hospital thought I must be dreadfully ill, because they said that guy’s got the funeral director in already.”

He asked Sunak to ensure the health service would “embed recognition of early signs of sepsis.”

“If we can stop somebody ending up like this, I would say that is a job well done," Mackinlay said.

He also called on health ministers to ensure the “provision of appropriate prosthetics.”

The lawmaker recounted in a series of interviews how he was taken to hospital on Sept. 28 after feeling ill. At the hospital, he said, he turned “bright blue” as sepsis caused clotting that stopped blood getting to his limbs.

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.

Suffering from septic shock, Mackinlay was put in an induced coma and his wife was told he had a 5% chance of survival.

When he awoke after 16 days, he said his limbs had turned black and were hard “like plastic.” His hands and feet became “desiccated, clenched and drying,” he told the Daily Telegraph.

On Dec. 1, his hands and feet were amputated.

“They managed to save above the elbows and above the knees,” he told the BBC. “So you might say I’m lucky.”

Mackinlay, who has represented the South Thanet district of southeast England in Parliament since 2015, said he plans to run to become a member of Parliament again when an election is called later in the year.

“People can’t believe how cheerful I have been,” he told the Daily Telegraph. “I have not had much to be cheerful about but that’s my nature. There’s not much you can do about it so there’s not much point in getting upset about it.”

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