Metro Detroit woman battling flesh-eating bacteria - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Metro Detroit woman battling flesh-eating bacteria

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Crystal Spencer Crystal Spencer

It is the first time in years that somebody from Michigan is battling the flesh-eating bacteria.  A Farmington Hills woman is fighting for her life as she tries to beat it.  The 33-year-old is bedridden in the hospital not able to talk and getting help just to breathe.

"It's just hard.  I can't do this," said Jeff Spencer.

He is worried about his wife, Crystal, dealing with flesh-eating bacteria.  He and a friend took her to Botsford Hospital because of a growth on her leg.  That was the end of June.

After being treated, Crystal just didn't feel well, leading her right back to the hospital.

"She started not eating, just kept complaining of terrible pain in her leg and her abdomen until he finally took her back in," said Theresa Corwin.

Now with a 30 to 40-percent chance of survival, the family's medical bills are piling up.  Crystal's case is rare according to the DMC's Dr. Joel Kahn.

"I understand this poor woman was in the hospital recently.  You can pick up bad bugs in the hospital, and then you might be dealing with kind of a supercharged, super-guerrilla bacteria that is just going to fly through your tissues," he said.

The bacteria, known as necrotizing fasciitis, is just one strain and it moves quickly, not only eating away at the body's flesh, but infecting the body with toxins.  The bacteria spreading after a growth or cut leaves the body open to the infection.

"You might be able to get the tissue and the bacteria out and then with antibiotics, but these bacteria make toxins, poisons, and you may not have by cutting that little part out all the toxins in the body removed.  They may still be working on other tissue, kidneys, the brain," Kahn explained.

The doctor said this type of bacteria is rare, but we may end up seeing more of it in the near future.  The reason?  More people dealing with diabetes, obesity and also alcoholism.

"I think we will be seeing more of this.  An alcoholic that has a decreased immune function, somebody using drugs, somebody with cancer or very old age, so that's a big part of the population, particularly if you add in diabetes and then you're ability to fight off what might start as a very simple infection is diminished."

For the Spencers, doctors are hoping it doesn't spread, and Jeff is hoping for more happy times if Crystal is able to fight it.

"I don't think they're going to cover it because we didn't get approval for it," he said.

So already, tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills are piling up.  If you would like to help this family, the Crystal Spencer Recovery Fund has been set up at the LOC Federal Credit Union.

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