Amateur footballer died of flesh-eating virus that was mistakenly diagnosed as tonsillitis by NHS doctors

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
The parents of Luke Abrahams, 20, have come out to criticise the NHS over a “catalogue of errors” that led to the death of the Northampton footballer.

An amateur footballer has died as a result of a flesh-eating virus that was mistaken for tonsillitis by doctors. The parents of Luke Abrahams have hit out at the NHS over a “catalogue of errors’ that led to the death of the 20-year-old.

Luke had felt unwell in January and complained about a sore throat before going to see his GP at Penvale Medical Centre in Northampton. He was diagnosed with tonsillitis and his doctor prescribed him with antibiotics.

But Luke’s condition continued to worsen in the coming days with pains in his legs that led to his worried parents to take him to hospital. He was later sent back home, but the pain grew so severe that he begged them to call 999 as he “couldn’t take the pain” much longer.

The 20-year-old later died on the operating table at Northampton General Hospital. A post-mortem examination revealed that Luke had been suffering from septicaemia Lemierre syndrome, which is a form of bacterial infection and a flesh-eating disease.

Grieving parents Richard Abrahams, 60, and Julie Needham, 49, have criticised the NHS while launching a legal bid to discover why so many mistakes were made in the diagnosis and treatment of their son.

Richard said: “No one has taken any responsibility over his death. When he first went to the doctors and then started complaining about a pain in his leg, he should have been given more tests.

“What is the point of over the phone consultations with the doctor? Doctors need to see you in person to give a correct diagnosis and that is why he was misdiagnosed.

He continued: “In the end he was an emergency case, but they did not see that as they thought he just had tonsillitis and sciatica. I cannot say whether he would definitely be here now, but they cut corners and misdiagnosed him.

Credit: SWNSCredit: SWNS
Credit: SWNS | SWNS

“Whichever way you look at it, none of the healthcare providers did their job properly. We are just left with ‘what ifs.’”

Luke’s mother, Julie added: “They took him into hospital for further checks and that was it. We got a call at 1am from Luke saying “can you come down, they want to see you,” and that is when we were told he has a 50/50 chance of survival.

“The doctors said he is really poorly, he has got this bacterial eating infection and it is a life-threatening situation. We were shocked but thought to ourselves, “they can save him”, we put our trust in them.

Luke with his dad, Robert during his 18th birthday celebrations - Credit: SWNSLuke with his dad, Robert during his 18th birthday celebrations - Credit: SWNS
Luke with his dad, Robert during his 18th birthday celebrations - Credit: SWNS | SWNS

She continued: “They said this is a life-threatening operation and we might have to amputate his leg. They amputated his leg but said he was too far gone.

“Luke knew he was going to die after what he said on the operating table. He said, “Dad, I’ll be okay, you take care of Jake and mum. That’s when I felt he knew he was going to die, Luke was trying to protect us because that’s Luke.”

Integrated Care Northamptonshire are currently reviewing the case.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.