Scottish medical technology breakthrough saves Welshman's legs

Welshman Barry Mayled was just hours away from having a procedure sanctioned to remove both his legs below the knee - when medics opted to try a revolutionary microwave treatment for skin lesions, which was invented in Stirling by Scottish health tech company Emblation

A diabetic man who was facing a double-leg amputation has had his legs saved at the eleventh hour by a new Scottish invention.

Welshman Barry Mayled was just hours away from having a procedure sanctioned to remove both his legs below the knee - when medics opted to try a revolutionary microwave treatment for skin lesions, which was invented in Stirling by Scottish health tech company Emblation.

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Mr Mayledd, 73 - an architect and garden designer from Penarth in the Vale of Glamorgan - had been plagued by horrific ulcers on his feet which steadily worsened despite extensive and varied treatments.

Barry Mayled, whose diabetic ulcerations were treated with Emblation’s Swift device. Photo: Mark Hawkins.Barry Mayled, whose diabetic ulcerations were treated with Emblation’s Swift device. Photo: Mark Hawkins.
Barry Mayled, whose diabetic ulcerations were treated with Emblation’s Swift device. Photo: Mark Hawkins.

The technology, known as Swift, uses targeted low energy doses of microwaves to stimulate the immune system. After monthly treatments over a year, Mr Mayledd’s feet were completely healed

“It saved my life,” he 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.

Podiatrist Tracy Davies applies Emblation’s Swift device to the feet of Barry Mayled. Photo: Mark Hawkins.Podiatrist Tracy Davies applies Emblation’s Swift device to the feet of Barry Mayled. Photo: Mark Hawkins.
Podiatrist Tracy Davies applies Emblation’s Swift device to the feet of Barry Mayled. Photo: Mark Hawkins.

“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 can be a 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.

In Mr Mayledd’s case, a simple verruca got out of control when the relatively harmless lesion became infected and ulcerated.

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The hands of podiatrist Tracy Davies operating Emblation’s Swift device. Photo: Mark Hawkins.The hands of podiatrist Tracy Davies operating Emblation’s Swift device. Photo: Mark Hawkins.
The hands of podiatrist Tracy Davies operating Emblation’s Swift device. Photo: Mark Hawkins.

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.

“I developed what looked like a bruise on my right foot,” Mr Mayledd said.

“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.”

As a last resort, Mr Mayledd’s podiatrist suggested using the Swift technology which Emblation had developed.

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Mr Mayledd underwent 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.

His 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.”

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

She 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.

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“This could be far-reaching in the treatment of non-healing foot ulcerations, thus preventing unnecessary amputations.”

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.

The 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.

Mr 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.”

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