How Strep Throat Symptoms Led To Amputated Hands And Feet

Stacey Cole

Kevin Breen is lucky to be alive. The 44-year-old was suffering with stomach pains and feeling generally "off" on Christmas Day, so he went to the hospital. It turns out Kevin had contracted an extremely rare case of strep throat, which almost killed him. Sadly, it cost him his hands and his feet.

The Washington Post reported that after two days of vague flu-like symptoms, Kevin Green started experiencing razor-sharp stomach pains that were so powerful he could no longer walk.

A normally healthy and active man, the Grand Rapids, Michigan, resident had to admit he was now feeling quite ill. At the emergency room Kevin was tested for strep throat and flu which returned negative results, so he was sent home with pain relieving pills and nausea medication.

"They just didn't work. I felt worse the next morning, and I said, 'We gotta go to the hospital.' Something just wasn't right."

— Lansing Journal (@lansingjournal) March 15, 2017

"They opened him up and found one and a half liters of infected pus in his abdominal region. 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, I don't know what it is.'"

Then finally they had a clue: they discovered that Kevin and Julie Breen's son had recently caught strep throat. A culture came back positive for strep and Dr. Steensma was able to confirm that Kevin had contracted the infection. They determined that the strep had traveled from his throat to his stomach, a journey so rare that it had only occurred in 32 other cases, most of these being female. Kevin's strain of strep was extremely strong, leaving his body unable to defend itself.

"It's estimated that there are over one million cases per year, and this is only the second case that has ever been reported of strep traveling from a male patient's throat to his stomach."
"You're never prepared to hear those words from a doctor."
"He had multi-system organ failure and needed a ventilator. He had renal failure and acute kidney injury and liver injury and abnormalities in coagulation of his blood clotting. His blood pressure was so profoundly low, he pretty much required maximum doses of three medications to maintain it. He was fighting for his life."

And while the blood pressure medication was keeping Kevin alive, the side-effect was devastating: the medication was redirecting blood flow to his organs, thus shutting off blood to his extremities, resulting in tissue death (necrosis) of his hands and feet.

Several days after surgery Kevin began showing signs of recovery, and by the end of January he left intensive care and was transferred to an acute rehabilitation hospital where dialysis was stopped.

— WOOD TV8 (@WOODTV) March 17, 2017

"The simple things like getting up from the couch to get a snack or grabbing a tissue to blow my nose, I can't do those things without help. It's frustrating, I'm not gonna lie, but I have hope that I'll regain my mobility and the ability to take care of myself. I'm not going to let it beat me down."
"I can't even begin to tell you how grateful we all are that he's doing so well. He's home with his family. His kidneys have recovered. He's off dialysis, and he's regaining his life. That's the best we could wish for him."
"Things are hard, but at the end of the day I have a husband, and my kids have a dad."
"I'd like to be able to water ski again. That was a huge passion of mine. I may not be able to do it at the same level, but just getting out there would be special."

— Stacey Cole (@SC83Inquisitr) March 25, 2017

"It was very, very hard. I started planning in my head how I was going to tell my kids."

Julie said their story should serve as a reminder for everyone to be aware of their body, and to not delay going to the doctor if something is wrong.

"We're trying very hard to be positive and thankful. No doubt this will be life-changing. We just have to figure out how to make the best of things with the long road ahead of us."
"A lot of viral syndromes don't produce high fevers."
"If you notice that your arm or leg or another part of your body is getting warm and red and swollen you see a doctor: the earlier the better."

Kevin Breen's family have set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for Kevin's surgeries and rehabilitation More than $215,000 has already been raised via the crowdfunding site.

[Featured Image by Julie Breen/GoFundMe]