Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

April 16, 2013

Woman contracts deadly bacteria

Grateful to be alive

VALDOSTA — It was just an ordinary day for Marjorie Anderson, 76, but around 6 o’clock in the afternoon, she noticed that the end of her finger was blood red. As the evening progressed, her finger started to hurt and by the time she went to bed, she had a fever with chills.

“It was very painful. I thought about calling 911, but I didn’t,” she said. Her husband, Ron, said he tried to ice her hand down but it wasn’t helping, so he took her to the South Georgia Medical Center emergency room around 4:30 a.m.

“The lady doctor on duty took one look at it and knew right away what it was. I thought I was going to get some medicine and go home, but I stayed for 10 days,” she said.

SGMC called her primary physician, Dr. Ben Hogan, and surgeon, Dr. Kendrick, and reached out to infectious disease specialist Dr. Willie Saurina. Just a few hours after she arrived, Anderson was in surgery.

“We called the preacher. We called everybody in Sunday school. We got everybody praying for her,” said Ron. “She had these red streaks going all the way up her arm by the time they took her in surgery. She could’ve died.”

The physicians acted quickly as Anderson had clear signs of MRSA, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, known as the flesh-eating virus. The virus can enter the blood stream and kill the patient, or can kill living tissue that then has to be removed. Fortunately for Anderson, the virus was caught quickly.

“At first, Dr. Kendrick was going to take my finger when he did the surgery. They did surgery twice and cleaned it out, and cut me from the tip of my finger halfway down my hand. Dr. Saurina also marked the red marks on my arm where they stopped right below my shoulder and he would come in and check to make sure they hadn’t moved,” she said.

Anderson has been out of the hospital for two weeks, but her finger, the middle finger on her right hand, is still very swollen and scabbed. She is still on antibiotics and it will take some time to heal, but she is thankful that it looks like she won’t lose her finger or part of her hand.

“I really have no idea how I got it. I had shattered a glass in my kitchen and picked up all the little glass pieces, but I didn’t really notice that I had a cut on  my finger.”

Saurina said that even the tiniest opening into the body can be invaded by MRSA, which spreads very quickly.

“We tend to think our kitchens are very clean, but they really aren’t. There are all kinds of bacteria, especially in our sinks. It may look clean but there’s a difference between clean and disinfected,” he said.

Saurina said the physicians took the team approach to caring for Anderson, which is one of the reasons she recovered so well. He said all of the physicians knew what they were dealing with and took action immediately or the outcome could have been much worse.

“Dr. Saurina knew the right antibiotic to treat it with and get it under control. A couple of inches more, and who knows ...,” she said.

Anderson is the organist at her church, Victory Baptist, and her husband said he’s sure she will get a standing ovation when she returns to playing.

“I just want people to know that SGMC has great doctors right here and you don’t have to go anywhere else to get taken care of,” said Anderson.

Ron added, “If I had carried her out of town to Atlanta or someplace long distance, she wouldn’t have made it. She wouldn’t still be here.”

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