A US man is to undergo amputation on both hands and feet after contracting a virulent bacterial throat infection.
Kevin Breen, 44, of Grand Rapids, in Michigan, began feeling sick on Christmas day, but later went to hospital with severe stomach pain.
After initial problems in diagnosing the source of Mr Breen’s complaints, doctors discovered he had contracted strep throat, a usually non-life-threatening throat infection.
Mr Breen’s son had also recently had the infection.
But doctors said the bacteria had spread to Mr Breen’s stomach, making it much harder for his body to fight.
A CT scan revealed his stomach had grown and was full of puss, while other organs began failing.
As blood flow increased to his organs, the circulation in his hands and feet deteriorated and eventually ceased, leaving the flesh to die.
Speaking to NBC news, Mr Breen said he initially disregarded his gut complaints as anything serious.
He said: “It didn’t seem that unusual.
“I never thought I’d be going in for a stomach-ache and coming out a totally different person and it’s life-changing.”
At one point, doctors told Mr Breen’s wife to gather the family and prepare for the worst.
“That moment was terrifying,” she told reporters. “I just kind of lost it and stopped and prayed.”
Dr Elizabeth Steensma, an acute care surgeon at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital, who oversaw Mr Breen’s care, said at first the case seemed “almost a mystery”.
“He was one of the sickest patients I have ever taken care of.”
After discovering the cause of the illness to be strep throat, Dr Steensma said Mr Breen’s case was among just two recorded incidences in men where the bacteria had travelled from his throat to his stomach.
There are 32 recorded cases among women in which the virus has also travelled to their urinary tracts.
Mr Breen’s hands and feet have now turned black and he is awaiting surgery to have them removed.
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Due to the high costs of US health care, Mr Breen’s family has set up a GoFundMe account to help pay for the hospital bills.
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