AN EGYPTOLOGIST who rebuilt her life after a devastating bout of sepsis will cheer on family members in a charity challenge to fight the disease.

Elizabeth Frood, 40, had both legs amputated and faced a host of life-changing injuries after contracting the deadly blood infection in August 2015.

The Oxford University professor not only survived but stayed positive throughout the nightmare, and is now committed to making sure others can be saved.

She said: "Last year I was a perfectly fit and able person, looking after my son Emeran after just finishing maternity leave.

"I had no idea what sepsis was and I still have a hard time explaining it to people."

When the illness first struck Dr Frood, who was living in East Oxford at the time, assumed it was a stomach bug from her fieldwork in Egypt reading hieroglyphics.

But when her condition worsened, she was rushed to hospital and spent 10 days in intensive care with major organ failure and severe blood clots through most of her body.

She said: "They thought I was going to die at first. It was horrendous in the early stages for my family; I had no idea what was going on.

"In September I had both legs amputated and was relieved. My hands were really badly damaged, with the muscles destroyed, and they thought I would lose them too."

For months afterwards Dr Frood, who also needed a nose job and is permanently deaf in one ear, had to re-learn how to eat, wash and dress herself, and even use a phone.

She still regularly visits the Oxford Centre For Enablement at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre for check-ups and prosthetics.

She said: "It's going well and I am learning to manage without functioning hands. It's been a roller-coaster but we are doing ok."

During the ordeal the family, now living in Woodstock, drew some comfort from survivors' testimonies from the Sepsis Trust, a national charity supporting those affected.

Every year in the UK there are 150,000 cases of Sepsis, caused by a bad reaction by the body when fighting germs, resulting in 44,000 deaths: more than bowel, breast and prostate cancer combined.

In a snap decision, Dr Frood's husband Christoph Bachhuber signed up to the charity's annual sponsored bike race, which will see scores cycle to Wales over three days this weekend.

He said: "When Liz got sick it was robotic and surreal. I just had to get us through. I was teaching in Berlin and came back to Oxford with no job.

"We are in a more comfortable place now. She mentioned she saw this event, and I did the triathlon at Blenheim Palace in June so was already in the middle of cycle training.

"I've got some butterflies and adrenalin going but I'm really excited."

Over the course of this weekend, the 41-year-old will cycle with sister Anika from Oxford to Gloucester, then from Gloucester to Newport and finally to Cardiff Bay for a victors' party. Dr Frood, her sister Jane and one-year-old Emeran will follow along and dole out water from a wheelchair-adapted support truck.

Dr Frood said: "I hope people seeing us out there raises awareness. If there was more awareness maybe what happened to me would not happen to others."

The group has raised about £4,000 so far for the Sepsis Trust. For more information or to donate visit