Lower Sal­ford man loses part of fin­ger to ‘flesh-eat­ing bac­te­ria’

Souderton Independent - - FRONT PAGE - By Brian Binga­man

John Flen­ders, 27, of LRZHU 6DOIRUG, iV D VuU­vivor of the nasty-sound­ing necro­tiz­ing fasci­itis, more com­monly known as “flHVh-HDWiQJ EDFWHUiD.”

“I feel lucky that all I ORVW iV D EiW RI D piQNy,” hH said, com­par­ing his re­cent par­tial dig­i­tal am­pu­ta­tion to that of Univer­sity RI GHRUJiD VWuGHQW $iPHH Copeland, whose bat­tle with necro­tiz­ing fasci­itis re­sulted in am­pu­ta­tion of both feet, her en­tire right leg and most of both hands af­ter be­ing injured in a zip line ac­ci­dent last year.

LiNH CRpHODQG, DOO iW took was an open­ing of some kind in the skin for the bac­te­ria to en­ter the body. De­scrib­ing his ex­pe­ri­ence as an un­fore­seen, freak oc­cur­rence, Flen­ders be­lieves he came in contact with the bac­te­ria in 6HpWHPEHU ZhiOH WZiFH UHtriev­ing an er­rant football that had landed in a pond.

“There were plenty of times the ball was over­thrown into the bushes. I’m pretty cer­tain that I cut my­self one of those times re­triev­ing the football IURP WhH EuVhHV,” hH VDiG.

The cut on his right lit­tle fiQJHU ZDV VR PiQRU WhDW hH did not know it was there un­til the pain started at 1 D.P. WhDW QiJhW. $OWhRuJh he said he put an­tibi­otic oint­ment and a ban­dage on the cut, it was too late.

“Once it gets in your ERGy, iW’V UHOHQWOHVV,” VDiG Flen­ders of a po­tent strain of strep­to­coc­cus pyo­genes JURup $ hiV GRFWRUV VDiG led to rapid tis­sue de­struc­tion.

Two area in­fec­tious dis­ease physi­cians in­ter­viewed for this story did so on the con­di­tion that their names not be used. Both said that as the name strep­to­coc­cus in­di­cates, it’s the same com­mon or­gan­ism that causes strep throat, which is why doc­tors tell you to stay home from work or school if you are ever di­ag­nosed with strep throat. It’s also why they also tell you to wash your hands and dis­in­fect cuts right away.

While strep­to­coc­cus is usu­ally killed off by an­tibi­otics, in­stances do oc­cur when it’s se­vere enough to cause de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of tis­sue and necro­tiz­ing fasci­itis, they said.

“GURup $ VWUHpWRFRFFuV iV OiJhWQiQJ IDVW,” VDiG -DFque­line Roem­mele, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the North 3ODiQ­fiHOG, 1.-.-EDVHG 1Dtional Necro­tiz­ing Fasci­itis Foun­da­tion. Those most at risk, she said, are chil­dren, es­pe­cially chil­dren with open chicken pox sores, peo­ple who have just had surgery and those with im­mune sys­tem is­sues.

$IWHU EDQGDJiQJ hiV FuW, Flen­ders felt ill for most of the next day and called in sick to work. The pain got worse and the right side of his hand red­dened, with WhH fiQJHU VZHOOiQJ DURuQG the ban­dage.

“Just an hour later, I could feel the pain pro­gress­ing from my hand up Py UiJhW DUP,” hH UHPHPbered.

$ZRNHQ Ey “H[FUuFiDWing, per­pet­u­at­ing, mer­ciOHVV WhUREEiQJ pDiQ” iQ the mid­dle of the night, he soaked and iced his hand and took Tylenol un­til he could make it to the docWRU’V RI­fiFH iQ WhH PRUQiQJ.

“There were red lines up my arm from the in­fec­tion trav­el­ing up my veins, a sight I de­scribed as an aer­iDO viHZ RI D UHG $PD]RQ 5ivHU,” FOHQGHUV VDiG.

The doc­tor sent him to the emer­gency room at Grand View Hospi­tal, which led to IV an­tibi­otics and surgery, ac­cord­ing to Flen­ders.

When the up­set­ting topic of am­pu­ta­tion arose, “my mom had made some calls and got me trans­ferred to Thomas Jef­fer­son Univer­sity Hospi­tal in Philadel­phiD,” hH VDiG.

De­spite ad­di­tional an­tibi­otic treat­ment, on Oct. 2, “the sur­geon re­moved a lit­tle bit more than half RI Py UiJhW piQNy,” VDiG Flen­ders, de­scrib­ing the pre-am­pu­ta­tion con­di­tion RI hiV fiQJHU DV D JUuHVRPH sight.

Due to the tim­ing of elec­tion of med­i­cal benH­fiWV, hHDOWh FDUH H[pHQVHV from the or­deal are all go­ing to be out-of-pock- et. Flen­ders’ fam­ily has launched an on­line fundraiser at www.in­diegogo. FRP/MRhQERy9129. $OVR, D EHHI-DQG-EHHU EHQH­fiW iV iQ the works.

Flen­ders has since re­turned to work as an IT FRQWUDFWRU IRU $GHFFR EQgi­neer­ing and last week his stitches were re­moved.

“Prac­tice good hy­giene. COHDQ yRuU FuWV,” VDiG Flen­ders. “Peo­ple should know that this bac­te­ria is RuW WhHUH.”

“I get [re­ports of necro­tiz­ing fasci­itisz cases ev­ery sin­gle day from ev­ery part of the world. John is this young, vi­brant, healthy per­son. He’s very lucky he OivHG,” 5RHPPHOH VDiG.

Sub­mit­ted photo

John Flen­ders, 27, of Lower Sal­ford, con­tacted necro­tiz­ing fasci­itis, more com­monly known as “flesh eat­ing bac­te­ria.”

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