11 Jan 2016
Marc Leishman plays a practice round ahead of the 144th Open Championship at The Old Course in St Andrews, Scotland.
Victorian Marc Leishman has revealed the true depth of his anguish as his wife Audrey battled a lfe-threatening disease last year.
Leishman said he was "terrified" when he was told Audrey had respiratory distress and toxic shock syndrome and had just a five per cent chance of survival.
The big-hitting US PGA star was reduced to a panicked father and husband as doctors tried to save his wife - and still has trouble talking about the distressing experience.
The first signs of the problem were when Audrey developed flu-like symptoms but by lunchtime a day later her nose had started to bleed.
“That’s when I got scared, finally really got scared. But I still didn’t want to go to the doctor,” Audrey said. Then her lungs began to fill with fluid.
“Her heart was shutting down, her liver, her kidneys, her bowel, everything was shutting down. We basically got told she was done,” Leishman told the Newcastle Herald.
“I didn’t eat or sleep for a week. Everytime you’d try and eat you’d just throw it up.
"It’s just gut-wrenching to have to see what was happening. And then having to look after the two boys as well.
”The first three days she was in a coma, they thought she was never going to wake up and then they had to turn her on to her stomach to try and drain the fluid,” Marc said.
When Audrey was taken out of her coma, Marc was told she would wake up within hours.
“Then a day went past and she didn’t wake up, and then another day went past and we’re like: ‘I don’t know, she’s brain dead or whatever’.
“When she first woke up, she couldn’t lift her phone, she couldn’t talk. She wasn’t strong enough to do any of that. That was hard to see.”
He remains grateful for his Tour friends who immediately offered help with players' wives delivering meals.
“Guys were coming up and they’d have tears in their eyes or tears rolling down their face just saying how much they were thinking of us and praying for us and all that. It really meant a lot,” he said.
She was hospitalised for 10 days, allowed to go home but then rushed back when doctors thought she had blood clots on her lungs, which was in fact pleurisy.
“It meant every single breath she took was excruciatingly painful,” Leishman said .
After she had regained her strength the pair began devoting time to charity, creating the Begin Again Foundation.
Apart from helping people with medical bills the organisation also provides backpacks of food to 50 schoolchildren so they don’t go hungry on weekends.
The foundation will help charities that support people with a disability, as well as junior golfers.
But Audrey's recovery remains arduous - doctors say it will be two years before they know if she will make a full recovery.
“She has good days and if she overdoes it she can’t get out of bed for two days,” Leishman said.
A nanny helps with the children while Marc is on tour.
“I try not to be away for more than two weeks,” he said.
Despite the trauma, Leishman had his most successful year to date in 2015, finishing second at the British Open and winning the rich Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa.