LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – A local woman survived a flesh-eating bacteria after undergoing several surgeries in Lafayette. She’s sharing her story now as a warning to others to get medical help as soon as something feels wrong.
Youngsville resident Patti Mallett woke up one morning unable to move her arm or leg. According to her, it felt like they were asleep.
“I didn’t know what was happening, I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t getting feeling back and why it wasn’t waking up,” said Mallett.
She said her neck started to hurt and the area grew red and hot. She went to Our Lady of Lourdes to get answers from a doctor.
“I didn’t care what he had to do. The pain was just so bad,” Mallett said. “I wasn’t scared. I had confidence in what he was telling me.”
Head and neck surgeon Dr. Jimmy White discovered Mallett had necrotizing fasciitis. He said he’s only seen it a handful of times.
“Necrotizing fasciitis is what people know more widely as flesh-eating bacteria,” said White. “It certainly is life threatening and the push is to get these people the proper treatment within the first 24-48 hours of diagnosis.”
Doctors rushed Mallett to surgery to start clearing out the dead tissue before its continued to spread further.
“We staged our operations,” White said. “We’d go back a day, two days later and take any more dying tissue until we got back to healthy, bleeding tissue.”
In total, doctors operated 10 times, leaving Mallett’s wounds open in case they needed to go back in quickly. Eventually, doctors got the infection under control.
Mallett said she knew she would survive. She just didn’t know how she got the flesh-eating bacteria in the first place.
“I always get asked where did you get it, were you at the beach?” No, none of those things. It can come from bee stings, wasp stings, open wounds, any surgical procedures,” Mallett said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a person can contract necrotizing fasciitis through a break in the skin. This can be anything from scrapes, burns, insect bites, puncture wounds or even surgical wounds.