A Milford Haven diabetic sufferer has relived the experience of undergoing a toe amputation, as a leading charity reveals that four people with diabetes require amputations every week in Wales.

Diabetes UK is campaigning for greater awareness and improved diabetes foot care to mark Diabetes Week, which began on Sunday.

It has also revealed that a total of 240 people across Wales have leg, toe and foot amputations every year.

One of those amputees is Rowland Rowlands, who has type 2 diabetes and had his big toe amputated two years ago. He has decided to share his story, to act as a warning to other diabetic sufferers.

The 53-year-old developed gangrene from stepping on a fork while walking barefooted in his kitchen.

“You are told time and time again ‘don’t walk around with bare feet’, but I walked around the kitchen with bare feet and stepped on a kitchen fork.”

“I didn’t feel it and only noticed I was bleeding ten minutes later, when I saw blood on the floor. The wound was so small I had to use a magnifying glass.

“I thought nothing of it but a few days later it was still red, so I went to the doctor, who gave me antibiotics,” he said.

Then, Rowland, who was diagnosed with diabetes ten years ago, went on a cruise holiday where he started feeling unwell and discovered his big toe had gone black.

Feeling worse on his return from holiday, he was diagnosed with gangrene and the next day was admitted to hospital to undergo a toe amputation.

Mr Rowlands said: “At that point I was too ill to understand the concept of what was happening.” Two years on, Mr Rowlands still struggles with his balance and has only just been discharged from the fortnightly care of podiatrists and he wears made-to-measure boots to improve his balance.

“I learnt my lesson, I don’t want sympathy, I want people to listen,” he added.

As part of Diabetes Week, Diabetes UK is calling for local health boards to work together with hospitals to provide high quality specialist care for managing and preventing diabetic foot disease.

Dai Williams, the Diabetes UK Cymru national director, said: “The consequences of diabetic foot disease are devastating and it must not be ignored.”

For more information on diabetes, you can contact Diabetes UK Cymru on 029 2066 8276.