One-in-a-mil­lion dis­ease took fam­ily to the brink

Stanthorpe Border Post - - FRONT PAGE -

AF­TER 30 surg­eries, con­stant up­heaval and a bat­tle with a flesh-eat­ing dis­ease, the lives of seven-year-old Ki­lan Barker and his fam­ily are start­ing to re­turn to some nor­mal­ity. The brave Stan­thorpe boy has faced more ad­ver­sity than most could imag­ine. These days he’s happy to be home on the farm with his par­ents and three sis­ters.

WHAT first ap­peared to be lit­tle more than a bruise quickly be­came the root of a two-year night­mare for a lo­cal fam­ily.

Seven-year-old Ki­lan Barker and his fam­ily have bounced from one hor­ror to the next over the last cou­ple of years af­ter the shy young­ster was hit with a “one-in-a-mil­lion” flesh-eat­ing dis­ease.

Ne­cro­tis­ing fasci­itis is a rare and se­ri­ous bac­te­rial skin in­fec­tion that spreads quickly and kills the body’s soft tis­sue.

Five years old at the start – and now roughly 30 surg­eries in – Ki­lan has bravely over­come the dis­ease and is only now start­ing to re­turn to the nor­mal­i­ties of youth.

“It was on the last week of the Septem­ber (2016) hol­i­days. He had the com­mon flu, he wanted to have a sleep, so he had a sleep and he woke up and I no­ticed this lit­tle bruise on his groin,” mum Sa­man­tha Kreis said.

“I booked him a doc­tor’s ap­point­ment and, when he woke up, I told him to have a shower be­fore the ap­point­ment and I saw it had got­ten a lit­tle bit big­ger.

“So in­stead of go­ing in when we were meant to, I just took him straight away. He couldn’t even walk in. He had to be car­ried. The doc­tor had a look and she just said he needs to go straight to the hos­pi­tal.

“From there, they had no idea what was wrong so they sent us to Toowoomba in an am­bu­lance. We went there un­til about 2am to 3am the next morn­ing be­fore they said they were send­ing us to Lady Ci­lento in Bris­bane.

“At first they thought it was meningo­coc­cal but they weren’t too sure. Af­ter a while, they just took him straight into theatre.”

From when he went to Stan­thorpe Hos­pi­tal and landed on an op­er­at­ing ta­ble in Bris­bane, less than 12 hours had passed.

“There was five sur­geons and be­tween them they’d only ever seen this once,” dad Andy Barker said.

Tis­sue sam­ples were taken and sent for lab­o­ra­tory tests be­fore doc­tors could defini­tively say it was ne­cro­tis­ing fasci­itis.

“They have to find the bug and then cre­ate some­thing to kill it be­cause every­one’s strain is dif­fer­ent,” Andy said. “It’s a bug that lives on every­one’s skin and they ac­tu­ally have to cut it out.

“It’s a one-in-a-mil­lion chance that this would hap­pen to any­one but, once it gets in, it just spreads rapidly. The doc­tors told us, had we been half an hour or an hour later, he’d have been dead.

“The worst part was see­ing him in a coma. I rocked up and the doc­tor couldn’t tell me if he’d sur­vive and I just broke down,” he said.

The life-al­ter­ing sit­u­a­tion has dec­i­mated the fam­ily’s fi­nances. They say Ronald McDon­ald House was a god­send but ev­ery other ex­pense has made get­ting by near-im­pos­si­ble.

“I got a ute here that I used to try make money out of fire­wood, but it’s out of rego. I don’t have money to put it back on the road. The truck’s nearly up for rego and tyres and, once that’s out, I’m bug­gered,” Andy said.

If you want to of­fer some sup­port, visit­sup­port-the-barker-fam­ily.

❝ I rocked up and the doc­tor couldn’t tell me if he’d sur­vive and I just broke down. — Andy Barker



ON THE FARM: Ki­lan Barker is happy to be home and liv­ing a nor­mal seven-year-old’s life af­ter his or­deal with a flesh-eat­ing dis­ease.

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