Flesh eating bacteria teen speaks

July 3, 2009 4:40:44 AM PDT
Matthew McKinney, 14, says the last thing he remembers is playing in the water at Hope Mills Lake. "We found these big cement blocks and helped use that to keep us down so we could search for the good clay," he told Eyewitness News.

Doctors say it was in that water that the teen became infected with bacteria - likely through an open wound.

Matthew says he remembers cutting his knee that day and suddenly feeling very sleepy.

"I felt tired most of the time. I slept quite a bit. I got some deep sleep most of those nights and then the fever started kicking in," he said.

Doctors say the bacterium which infected Mathew, Chromobacterium Violaceum, is common in lakes all across the southeast, but it's extremely rare for a person to be infected by it. The CDC said there have been fewer than 150 cases around the world between 1927 and 2005.

Doctors put Mathew on two different antibiotics, but neither worked. His parents brought him back to the hospital when his face started to swell. Doctors had to remove part of his nose, half of the palette in his mouth and several teeth to fight off the infection.

While it was a terrible ordeal for Mathew and his family, the medical community hopes to learn from what happened.

"I'm now considered case 35 which is kind of strange," Mathew offered.

Matthew says through all of this, he's happy to be part of a study to help doctors learn about the bacteria so they can help other patients.

"Even though it's bad for me, it's good for doctors for recent discovery. There's more technology since the last one I assume," he said.

Matthew is now making plans to leave the hospital and do what he hasn't been able to for many days: eat. He's already planning the menu.

"Chocolate mint ice cream oooohhh. One of my friends came in and started teasing me about that. I told him I was going to kick his butt when I got out," he said.

Mathew's family needs help paying for all the costs associated with his treatment. He'll need several trips back to surgeons for reconstructive surgery to fix his nose and mouth.

To contribute, contact:

CUMBERLAND UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
2262 George Owen Road
Fayetteville, NC 28306
(910) 425-5356
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