A YOUNG mum lost her arm to a flesh-eating bug after dismissing the warning signs.
Keirra Eames thought she’d dislocated her right arm in her sleep after waking up in agony one day.
It was only when the 26-year-old developed flu-like symptoms, including feeling sick and a high temperature, that she decided to go to hospital.
Medics discovered Keirra’s white blood cell count was high.
The severe infection, eats away at the body’s tissue, and in Keirra’s case it quickly invaded her whole body.
Keirra, from Utah, US, was in a coma for 11 days and doctors soon warned her only chance of survival was to amputate her arm that had turned septic.
Now, nine months since her ordeal began, the mum-of-two has decided to share her story for the first time.
She said: “I woke up during the middle of the night and I felt like I had dislocated my arm as it was so sore.
“I couldn’t get back to sleep and despite initially trying to ignore the pain.
“I began uncontrollably vomiting and I was sweating a lot – I thought it was the flu.”
At that point, Keirra’s husband Tyler, 28, took his wife into hospital.
Medics ran tests, and soon discovered that Keirra was suffering sepsis – meaning they had to act fast.
They tried to save her arm, by removing the dead tissue, but surgeons were unable to stop the infection’s spread and Keirra’s organs began to fail.
I was in a critical condition as my kidneys began shutting down and the top of my arm was black
“I blacked out and I only know what my husband has told me,” she said.
“The first surgery I had was to remove 40 per cent of the muscle mass from my arm but the sepsis continued to spread.
“I was in a critical condition as my kidneys began shutting down and the top of my arm was black.
“The doctors removed 40 per cent of my arm and some of my lower arm but there was no improvement and the infection wasn’t slowing down.
“My organs were shutting down and there was fluid on my brain, doctors attempted to reduce it with surgery but when they lay me down – my head started turning purple.
“To make things worse and more worrying for my family; three blood clots developed in my good arm and I was transferred to Salt Lake IHC via life flight.
A VICIOUS BUG THAT EATS AWAY AT THE BODY
Necrotising fasciitis is a rare but sometimes deadly bacterial infection that affects tissue under the skin as well as muscles and organs.
It’s often known as the “flesh-eating disease”, although the bacteria that cause it do not “eat” flesh, but release toxins that damage nearby tissue.
Necrotising fasciitis can start from a relatively minor injury, such as a small cut, but gets worse very quickly and can be life threatening if it’s not recognised and treated early on.
- a small but painful cut or scratch on the skin
- intense pain that’s out of proportion to any damage to the skin
- a high temperature (fever) and other flu-like symptoms
- swelling and redness in the painful area – the swelling will usually feel firm to the touch
- diarrhoea and vomiting
- dark blotches on the skin that turn into fluid-filled blisters
For more information see the NHS website.
“My condition wasn’t improving and there was talks of removing both my arms, but Tyler knew I wouldn’t want that and insisted on surgery.
“Medics warned I might not make it through another surgery and made him sign a waiver as the fingers and hand of my ‘good’ arm was turning black too and I was barely stable.”
Three blood clots were removed from Kierra’s arteries and things seemed to be on the up as her blood pressure medication was reduced.
But the following day her condition worsened – she underwent her fifth surgery and her right arm was amputated from the shoulder on January 13.
Two days later, she started opening her eyes and woke up the following day after 11 days unconscious.
She added: “I woke up in intensive care with absolutely no recollection of how I got there or why I was even there.
“I was hallucinating and had no idea with what was going on but when I realised my arm was gone, I cried.
“It was so hard to believe, I felt helpless.
“I had a difficult time coping and understanding everything that had happened as it felt surreal – one evening I went to bed as normal and the next I had been fighting for my life.
“After ten more days in hospital, I was transported to a rehabilitation for two weeks with an occupational therapist.
“Tyler has been my biggest supporter and he never left my side throughout and I can’t thank him enough for saying no to my other arm being amputated.
“I am unable to have a prosthetic for my right arm as there is nothing for it to clip on to, so I have had to learn how to adapt – I am just glad I have my children who keep me going.
“My kids Ryder, six, and Dash, two, are my biggest motivators and Ryder is always cheering me on.”