MOORESVILLE, Ind. — A family vacation to Florida turned into a week in the hospital for one Indiana family when their 12-year-old daughter Kylei contracted a life-threatening infection from the beach and was forced to fight for her life.
“It's just so hard seeing friends and family on the beach having fun because we were there doing the same thing, and I almost lost her,” Kylei’s mother, Michelle Brown, said.
Towards the end of their trip to Destin, Florida this month, Kylei began feeling pain in her leg. When the family got back to Indiana, the pain turned into swelling and then a fever. Brown called and made an appointment with her doctor, but she didn’t realize how bad the situation was until the doctor directed them to the emergency room.
"When they told me we needed to go home and pack bags and get to Riley, my anxiety went from 0 to 110," Brown said. "I knew something was wrong.”
Brown said doctors first thought it might be a blood clot. She watched in horror as her daughters’ condition got worse.
“Her blood pressure was just continuously dropping,” Brown said. “It was rough.”
Doctors soon discovered Kylei had necrotizing fasciitis. She had to have surgery to help remove the infection.
"The emergency surgery was to hopefully save her leg, but more importantly, to save her life," Brown said.
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According to the CDC, this aggressive infection kills one out of every three people who contract it. Prompt medical treatment is key.
"If it wasn't for the quick responses and aggressive treatments, I wouldn't have her," Brown said.
The bacteria is usually contracted in water and enters through an open wound. On their trip to the beach, Kylei stuck her toes in the water, just days after scuffing her toe on a skateboard.
"It started from a scuff on her toe, a scrape on her toe, and it almost cost her her life," Brown said.
Now finally back home, Kylei still has a needle in her arm for her antibiotics. Her leg is still wrapped, and she’s starting therapy to walk again.
"I've told my mom I just want to be normal again with my leg," Kylei said.
As the family starts their long road to recovery, Brown wants other families to know the dangers and the signs. She hopes other family vacations to the beach don’t end in tragedy.
"It's hard for me to think about if I had waited one more day, or even a couple more hours," Brown said. "We’re just very fortunate."
The CDC says if you have any open wounds you should avoid spending time in hot tubs, swimming pools and open water.
It’s important to keep wounds clean and covered, and if you experience symptoms of an infection, get immediate treatment.