One-in-a-million disease took family to the brink
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, visit www.gofundme.com/pgxv88support-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.