A diabetic man who was on the verge of having both legs amputated below the knees has made a full recovery after treatment with a device pioneered by Scottish inventors. 

Medics were hours away from sanctioning the drastic surgery after Barry Mayled's feet were plagued by horrific ulcers which steadily worsened despite extensive and varied treatments.

However, at the 11th hour the 73-year-old's legs were saved, thanks to a cutting edge microwave treatment developed in Scotland to heal skin lesions and which is transforming the options available to podiatrists. 


Mr Mayled, an architect and garden designer, credits the Swift device - invented by Scottish health tech pioneers, Emblation - for turning his life around. 

He said: “It saved my life. 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.

“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 are a notorious 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 Mayled's case, a simple verruca on his right foot spread had become infected and ulcerated.

It proved resistant to multiple treatments over four years, eventually spreading to both feet with painful growths behind his big toes leaving him barely able to walk.

The situation came to a head when X-rays identified that the the infection was getting closer to the bone, increasing the risk of osteomyelitis - a painful inflammation of the bone marrow.

Mr Mayled today and his ulcerated right foot back in June 2022, before beginning treatmentMr Mayled today and his ulcerated right foot back in June 2022, before beginning treatment (Image: Supplied)

Mr Mayled, from the Vale of Glamorgan in Wales, said: “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 Mayled turned to a private podiatrist who embarked on treatment with Swift, which uses targeted low energy doses of microwaves to stimulate the immune system.

After monthly treatments over a year - from July 2022 until April 2023 - his feet were completely healed.

Tracy Davies, podiatrist and company director at Toetal Footcare Ltd in Cardiff, said they have treated hundreds of patients using Swift but Mr Mayled's recovery is the most remarkable to date.

She 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.”

Tracy removed dead and damaged tissue and began the microwave treatment.

Over time, Barry’s verrucae and ulcerations started to reduce, completing healing by September 2023.

Ms Davies added: “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.

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

The treatment has transformed Mr Mayled’s life and he is now eligible for double knee replacement surgery.

He added: “Now I haven't got a problem with my feet. They're fine. It's just a question of biting the bullet on when I want to have my knees done.

"Then I’ll be the bionic man and I can maybe enjoy my retirement."

The Swift device was developed by Stirling-based, EmblationThe Swift device was developed by Stirling-based, Emblation (Image: Supplied)

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.

Its 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.

Gary 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.”