Robert Beck, 60 from War, WV was admitted to the Pikeville Medical Center (PMC) intensive care unit on his birthday, February 20 of this year, and placed on life support. His treatment and recovery have been nothing short of miraculous.
Beck had been working on replacing the floors in his kitchen. This work took days and throughout the process, his step-daughter and her husband noticed he was not acting like himself. He also was not feeling well. They came over to check on him and found him unconscious.
Beck was taken by ambulance to a hospital near his home. He was diagnosed with advanced-stage necrotizing fasciitis, more commonly known as flesh-eating disease.
“Necrotizing fasciitis is a very aggressive, but rare form of skin infection that is most commonly caused by normal skin bacteria acting together in unison to cause a rapidly progressive infection that can be fatal in up to one-third of patients affected,” explained PMC Trauma Surgeon Aaron Brown, MD.
Early symptoms include redness, pain and swelling, usually around a cut or wound. More severe symptoms include large purple marks that transform into blisters, and loss of consciousness as the patient goes into toxic shock.
“They told me I was hours from death, but they couldn’t help me,” said Beck. “The facility I was in was not equipped to care for me, so they called many other neighboring hospitals in hopes of transferring me. None were able to provide the care needed to save my life.”
“The hospital finally called PMC, who told them to stabilize and ship me. They believed they could help,” said Beck.
On top of the flesh-eating disease, Beck was also found to have pneumonia and was in septic shock.
He was admitted to PMC’s 9th floor ICU, where the trauma team came in to examine his leg. They were not sure they could save his leg, the damage was extensive. He was kept on life support and given powerful antibiotics intravenously to treat the infection running throughout his body.
Dr. Brown, along with PMC Trauma Surgeon Rudy Judhan, MD, devised a treatment plan to save him. “Mr. Beck required extensive debridement and subsequent skin grafting to treat his infection that involved nearly all of the skin on his left leg below the knee,” said Dr. Brown.
“The doctors who cared for me were fabulous, and I couldn’t have asked for better,” said Beck. “They saved my leg and saved my life. I am so grateful to them.”
On April 6 Beck was transferred to a rehab facility to continue his care closer to home. The rehab facility gave him a projection of being able to walk with a walker within eight-12 months. Beck proved them all wrong and was up and walking with a cane in three short weeks.
While being admitted for nearly two months at PMC, more changed in Beck’s life than just his health. Beck was lead to God while at PMC. Part of the mission statement of the hospital is to maintain a Christian environment; a value that hospital employees try daily to uphold.
“Before getting sick and coming to PMC, I was a stone-cold atheist,” said Beck. “I didn’t believe in the existence of God. Now I go to church in my hometown and I thank God for working a miracle in my life.”
He is now living life to the fullest, riding his side-by-side in the mountains and enjoying time with his fiancé, Debbie Collins.
“It was a pleasure taking care of him while he was a patient in the ICU, the hospital ward, and following up with him after discharge in Trauma Clinic to monitor his wound to complete healing,” Dr. Brown added. “The trauma service is able to provide the full spectrum of surgical care from door to discharge and throughout full recovery. In doing this we get to witness the remarkable healing the human body is capable of when coupled with great surgical care.”
For more information, or to make an appointment please call 606-218-3500.