Health Care

Man loses fingers and toes to rare strep throat

Man loses fingers and toes to rare strep throat

Kevin is not longer employed and his wife is now the sole breadwinner of the family.

As a 44-year-old husband and father of three, he was always on the move, whether it was on one of many MI lakes or chasing after his children, there were no signs of life slowing down. And two days after his vague, flulike symptoms had begun, they'd taken on a odd new form: a razor-sharp stomach pain so powerful that Breen could no longer walk.

He went to an Urgent Care and was sent home with medication.

However, there was no improvement in his pain, and he was admitted to the emergency room.

"He was one of the sickest patients I have ever taken care of", Dr. Elizabeth Steensma, an acute care surgeon on Breen's case, told Wood TV. She added that his condition was "almost a mystery".

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"I don't want to make a comment because I don't understand this stuff ", he said, as quoted in the report. But, as Hackney points out, at that time , the group wasn't a charity anyway.

Breen had to undergo surgery which revealed three litres of pus surrounding his organs, which mystified the doctors.

Breen went into multisystem organ failure and severe septic shock, and doctors worked quickly to treat him. In fact, his internal organs began to fail, and at one point, his wife Julie was told to gather the family and prepare for the worst.

"That moment was terrifying", Julie Breen said to WOOD TV.

Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious disease at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, said for most strep is just a temporary bother, but sometimes it can get into the blood stream and cause a serious infection.

The last thing they expected to find...came back positive. The infection, caused by streptococcal bacteria, typically affects the throat and the tonsils.

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Doctors still couldn't figure out the source of the problem until they learned Breen's son recently had strep throat. Severe abdominal pain and flu-like symptoms were initially diagnosed as mild pancreatitis, but Breen was not responding to treatment.

Jill Breen said she has no idea how the future will play out. He's not bitter, but happy to be alive and thankful for the doctors who saved him. His hands and feet turned black and lost nearly all movement - so doctors said they both hands and feet would have to be removed. "'Dad's going to have cool hands, Dad's going to have cool feet.' You have to be positive". Because he was showing signs of a ruptured ulcer, doctors opted to perform an exploratory surgery during which they discovered about 1.5 liters of infected puss in his abdomen, according to a GoFundMe page set up for the father-of-two's medical bills.

The family credits prayer from the staff at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital, as well as prayer from family and friends, for saving Breen's life.

It's an event Breen is looking forward to and it gives him something to smile about. His wife, Julie, noted that life will be different for them. "We met with the surgeon after surgery and she sat us down and said, 'I've never seen this before and I don't like it".

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