‘Finally free’: Actress reveals she had flesh-eating bug and publishes scar photo

Entertainment

Actress Georgie Henley has revealed she suffered from a rare flesh-eating infection as a teenager and published a photo of her scars.

The 27-year-old British actress, who rose to fame as a child playing Lucy Pevensie in the The Chronicles Of Narnia film series, said contracting necrotising fasciitis when she was 18 almost cost her her life.

In a lengthy post on social media, Henley said that after years of covering up while working she finally feels ready to speak out and show her scars are “nothing to be ashamed of”.

In a post to her 376,000 followers on Instagram, as well as on Twitter, the star said: “When I was eighteen years old and in my sixth week of university, I contracted necrotising fasciitis, a rare and punishing infection that nearly claimed my life and wrought havoc throughout my body.

“In order to prevent the amputation of my left hand and arm I received gruelling invasive surgery, and later extensive reconstructive surgery which resulted in a series of skin grafts and scars.

“It has taken me a long time to heal both physically and mentally but I hoped that one day there would be the right time to talk about what happened. Today is a start.”

Necrotising fasciitis is also known as the “flesh-eating bug”, according to the NHS – a rare and life-threatening infection that can happen if a wound gets infected. It needs to be treated in hospital urgently.

Henley said that while she had been open about her scars in her personal life, in a professional context, working in the entertainment industry, she had hidden them “entirely… wearing bandages or coverings, make-up on set and stage, long sleeves whenever I might be photographed, trousers so I could put my hand in a pocket”.

‘I’m proud to be a person who has visible scars in this industry’

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“The industry I am part of often focuses on a very narrow idea of what is deemed aesthetic ‘perfection’, and I worried that my scars would prevent me from getting work. The truth is there is no such thing as ‘perfection’, but I have still lived with the shame of feeling different, exacerbated by the expectations that came with beginning my career at a young age.

“But my scars are not something to be ashamed of. They are a map of the pain my body has endured, and most importantly a reminder of my survival. They do not affect my capacity as an actor, and I’m proud to be a person who has visible scars in this industry.”

Image:
Henley rose to fame alongside Ben Barnes in The Chronicles Of Narnia series. Pic: AP

Henley, who studied English at Clare College, Cambridge, and recently appeared on screen in The Spanish Princess series, thanked Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge and her friends, family and colleagues for their support over the years.

“I’m sure I will talk more about my experiences in the future but today I am simply happy to feel, for the first time in a very long time, finally free,” she said.

Thousands of Instagram users responded to her post, including The Crown star Emma Corrin, who wrote: “Love you geo.”

Nadia Parkes, Henley’s The Spanish Princess co-star, said: “So proud of you. You are incredible. Love you xxxx.”

What is necrotising fasciitis?

The NHS says necrotising fasciitis is rare but can be fatal.

Initial symptoms can include intense pain or loss of feeling near a cut or wound, swelling of the skin around the affected area, and flu-like symptoms such as a high temperature, headache and tiredness.

Later symptoms can include sickness and diarrhoea, confusion and blotches or blisters on the skin.

Treatment can include antibiotics or surgery to remove the affected area.

“Even after successful treatment, there may be long-term changes in how your body looks and how you move or use the affected part of your body. Sometimes amputation of affected limbs is needed,” the NHS says on its website.

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