Strep throat, an infection at the back of the throat common in children, can become dangerous when untreated. However, most people seek medical attention as soon as they start experiencing the symptoms, which include:
- Enlarged lymph nodes,
- Red tonsils,
- Sore throat,
In most cases, strep throat will usually improve in three to five days and complications in adults is low. However, one man’s seemingly harmless infection quickly became life-threatening.
A Michigan man, who thought he had nothing more than a common flu, contracted a rare case of strep throat, which resulted in him requiring a quadruple amputation.
44-year-old Kevin Breen, a Grand Rapids resident, suspected nothing out of the ordinary was wrong when he started noticing flu like symptoms a few days before Christmas.
Initially, Breen brushed off the symptoms until he started to endure more serious stomach pains, which sent him to the emergency room
Medics performed a CT scan on Breen’s stomach, which revealed that Breen’s flu was much more serious than it appeared. The scan showed that his stomach was dangerously enlarged and filled with pus.
Dr. Elizabeth Steensma, an acute care surgeon at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital told WOOD-TV, “He was one of the sickest patients I have ever taken care of.”
“I never thought [I would be] going in for a stomachache and coming out a totally different person,” Breen told WOOD-TV. “[It’s] life-changing.”
Breen’s organs quickly began to fail, which prompted doctors to redirect the blood flow in his body to the organs. Unfortunately, this redirection meant that the flesh on his hands and feet would die.
Doctors were initially dumbfounded at what was causing Breen’s illness, but by chance they learned that his son recently had strep throat.
A rash that broke out on Breen’s chest suggested that strep throat was the source and tests ended up revealing that he had contracted his son’s infection, but it managed to travel from his throat to his stomach.
Breen had to fight for his life after he went into severe septic shock and was placed on a ventilator. His kidneys ended up shutting down, which required him to be placed on continuous dialysis to filter his blood.
Breen was eventually moved from the hospital to an acute rehab hospital where he was luckily able to stop dialysis. After a month in the facility, Kevin was discharged to finally go home.
Unfortunately, stopping the blood flow to his extremities turned Kevin’s hands and feet completely black and will require amputation.
While Breen was able to recover from the infection, he will still have to undergo 4 surgeries: complete amputation of his left hand, amputation of multiple fingers on his right hand, and partial amputation of both feet.
Kevin Breen’s illness kept him out of work and to help pay for medical expenses, his family set up a GoFundMe account, which has already raised $223,676 of its $250,000 goal.
Dr. Elizabeth Steensma told WOOD-TV that there have only been 32 cases of patients with strep throat having the infection travel to the abdomen.
According to Breen’s doctors, he is only the second documented male in the world to have this type of infection happen.
“Life is forever going to be different,” Breen’s wife Julie told WOOD-TV. “But different doesn’t necessarily have to be bad. It’s going to be what we make it and we have to figure it out, figure it out for our kids. Dad’s going to have cool hands, Dad’s going to have cool feet. We have to be positive.”