Utah mother contracts flesh-eating disease after giving birth

Doctors fought to save her

By Heather Simonsen, KSL TV
Copyright 2019 CNN

Ogden, Utah mother is recovering after she became sick after delivering her baby by C-section.

OGDEN, Utah - A young Ogden, Utah mother is recovering from a mysterious disease after she became sick after delivering her baby by C-section, and doctors had to fight to save her.

For a newborn, a photo is no substitute for a mother's arms. But for the first three weeks of her son's life, Essence Blackhurst is in the hospital fighting for her life. Her aunt, Arla Harris, cared for baby Eli during the time.

"We raided her dirty clothes and we kept it wrapped around him," said Harris, who lives in Ogden.

Blackhurst became very sick after an emergency C-section on May 29 at Ogden Regional Medical Center.

"I knew something was wrong," Blackhurst, who lives in Ogden, said.

Harris said Blackhurst was "running fevers, throwing up; it just seems like it never got under control." Blackhurst added that "it just hurt, I just felt like something was wrong, like it wasn't supposed to feel like that."

A red coloration of the skin started migrating up her belly, and doctors diagnosed her with flesh-eating disease. Though rare, the disease can be life threatening if not treated in its early stages.

After five surgeries to remove the infected tissue, doctors also administered antibiotics, which left Blackhurst sedated for days.

"I had no idea what was going on, so it was scary," she said.

The bacteria most commonly enters through a break in the skin, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including surgical wounds. Craig Bielik, facility director of PR and communications at the Ogden Regional Medical Center, declined a request for an interview but said in an email that they, "consistently adhere to evidence-based guidelines for infection prevention and measure compliance."

Blackhurst is now home recovering with a good prognosis and gaining strength from baby Eli.

"I know it's that baby," Harris said. "She wants him so bad. I know he's her strength right now."

Blackhurst agreed.

"For sure. He's so amazing. I love that kid."

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