Episode 178: Woman who survived rare flesh-eating disease hopes her story saves lives
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Hilo woman is raising awareness about a rare flesh-eating bacteria.
Necrotizing fasciitis can be deadly, and Danielle McKim says she was one of the lucky ones thanks to her persistent doctor.
When the 55-year-old was admitted to the ER, she didn’t have any open or oozing wounds indicating a serious infection.
”I felt like I had the flu, really bad,” said McKim.
Her doctor, Crystal Hammer, insisted on a CT scan. It showed a rare flesh-eating bacteria inside McKim’s body and it was spreading quickly.
“If you don’t go to the OR early and cut this dead tissue out, it will continue to spread and your chance of dying is 100%,” said Emergency Medicine Specialist Dr. Hammer.
Flesh-eating bacteria is resistant to antibiotics and the only way to remove it, is to cut it out.”One of my wounds was six inches deep,” recalled McKim.
McKim underwent 10 surgeries, one operation a day, to take out all of the infected tissue near her buttocks. In the hospital, she had limited visitors and hoped and prayed her giant wounds would not get re-infected. She says it was an emotionally trying time.
”I’m by myself and they just made me feel really good. You know, they took care, they cared about me,” said McKim.
She has no idea how or where she contracted the bacteria.
”People joke, I swam in the Ala Wai? No, I didn’t,” said McKim.
”It can take just a small scrape or I’ve seen patients who they just had a pinprick of a needle, a scrape in the water, small things like that, that you would never suspect and in Danielle’s case and in other patients case, it can also enter through small mucosal openings that’s like, you know, around your anus area or around your mouth,” said Dr. Hammer.
Getting infected with Necrotizing Fasciitis is very rare. A study by the University of Hawaii found the incidence of flesh eating bacteria to be 75 cases per 100,000 hospital admissions.
Dr. Hammer says if you have an infection that’s rapidly worsening and severe pain, fever or low blood pressure, see a doctor.
As a flesh eating bacteria survivor, McKim is thankful she did not lose any limbs or suffer complications. She is especially grateful to all the healthcare workers, especially Dr. Hammer, for saving her life.
”If she didn’t push me that night, you know, I wouldn’t be here today,” said McKim.
McKim says she’s now struggling to pay her mounting life flight and medical bills.
If you’d like to help, here’s a link to her GoFundMe.
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