Florida resident Kelli Brown Whitehead was recently hospitalised and diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis.
Whitehead’s family members suspect but have not confirmed that Whitehead’s illness is related to wading in the Gulf of Mexico.
On Monday, Nov. 4 Whitehead’s family gathered around her at Blake Medical Center for what they feared might be one of the final days of her life.
One week earlier, on Oct. 28, Whitehead’s mother, Joan Smart Brown from Memphis, Tenn., started a Kelli Brown Whitehead Facebook fundraising page for her adopted daughter.
“Kelli went wading in the Gulf of Mexico and got that flesh-eating bacteria. It spread fast and she lost all of her left leg and is on a ventilator and having kidney dialysis. She is in critical condition in a hospital in Florida. She and Robin (Kelli’s husband) are living off his disability check. Anything that you could contribute would help them out. It will be used to help him with his immediate living expenses and food,” Brown wrote at the fundraiser page.
As of Monday, 22 contributors donated $1,415 toward the initial $2,000 fundraising goal.
Brown spoke with The Sun on Saturday afternoon by text and telephone. She said she was told by another family member that her daughter was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis. Brown planned to travel to Bradenton on Tuesday, Nov. 5, but moved her travel plans up one day due to Whitehead’s rapidly worsening condition.
On Saturday, Brown said she was told Whitehead and her husband waded in the Gulf of Mexico north of Bridge Street in Bradenton Beach approximately two weeks ago.
“They were just wading around, they weren’t even swimming. And the next day or so, her foot began to hurt so bad,” Brown said, noting that Whitehead has had Type 1 diabetes all her life.
“When they got to the hospital it was eating her leg away. She lost her leg and the fear now is it might spread to the organs. It’s horrible,” Brown said.
On Sunday, The Sun spoke with Whitehead’s daughter, Brittany Burton, who lives in Bradenton.
“My mom is diabetic. She would only walk in the water a little bit. She must have had a cut. She thought she pulled a muscle and the pain started in her thigh,” Burton said.
Burton said her mom waited about a week before she was taken by ambulance to the emergency room at Manatee Memorial Hospital where, according to Burton, she was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis and transferred to Blake.
“She’s in very critical condition,” Burton said, noting that her mother’s organs were failing.
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