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A Grand Rapids, Michigan, father and husband was plunged into a health crisis on Christmas Day. What began as a simple bout of flu-like symptoms ultimately cost him his hands and feet.
Kevin began to feel unwell on Christmas Day and soon felt sore and achy. The next day an urgent care ran strep and flu tests, which came back negative – but Kevin kept getting sicker and ended up in the emergency room. “I couldn’t stand up,” Kevin says. “His stomach kept getting larger and harder,” adds his wife, Julie, “All of a sudden all these nurses and doctors – his body was literally shutting down.”
Emergency exploratory surgery revealed that strep had traveled from Kevin’s throat to his stomach, which had filled with pus. The infection also caused irreversible tissue damage to Kevin’s hands and feet. He’s already had a foot and a hand amputated, and may lose the other extremities as well.
“It was the worst moment of my life,” says Julie. “Thankfully, he’s still here.” And Kevin wonders, “All from strep throat? It doesn’t make any sense – it’s crazy.”
“Kevin is one of only two cases reported in men of strep traveling down into his stomach,” says ER Physician Dr. Travis Stork. “Are you at a point now, as far as your body, where you feel like you’re getting stronger?” he asks Kevin. Kevin’s able to do bed exercises. “I have strength within. I don’t feel like a weak person by any means,” he says. He’s determined to get through the surgeries and carry on.
Julie says that they’ve received wonderful support – from family, their church, and Kevin’s medical team.
Kevin says one of the biggest challenges is getting around – their car is not equipped to carry a wheelchair, and it’s hard for him to get in and out of it. But The Doctors have a surprise! Mobility Ventures has agreed to provide the family with their MV1 – the world’s first and only wheelchair-accessible vehicle that’s built from the ground up for wheelchair access.
But that’s not all. Erik Schaeffer, the prosthetic designer, CEO, and owner of A Step Ahead Prosthetics in Hicksville, New York, joins the conversation. “Kevin, we’re going to bring you to New York and we’re going to fully rehabilitate you,” he promises. “We’re going to design you the most advanced prosthetic components on earth. We’re going to have you up and skiing, back at the gym, running around with your kids. They’re going to be no limitations on your life.” Kevin responds, “I’m ready to get up and walk!” trivago, the hotel search site, will cover Kevin’s travel expenses for his trip to New York.
When Kevin is fully recovered and up and around on his prosthetics, Dr. Stork says, “We look forward to having you back – to walk onto our stage!”
Plastic Surgeon Dr. Andrew Ordon notes that Kevin’s sense that something was seriously wrong, and his refusal to stop seeking care, probably saved his life. If you feel that something isn’t right, don’t delay – get to a doctor!