A rare case of strep throat nearly cost a Michigan man his life, and has led to the quadruple amputation of his hands and feet.
Kevin Breen, of Alto, Michigan, was a healthy and active 44-year-old before he fell ill on Christmas Day. He began to experience stomach pain that grew so severe he went to the emergency room.
“I never thought (I’d be) going in for a stomach ache and coming out a totally different person,” Breen told NBC affiliate WOOD-TV. “[It’s] life-changing.”
Once at the hospital, doctors found Breen’s stomach was getting larger and hardening as it filled with pus. His organs began failing and in his body started redirecting blood flow to them, causing the flesh of his hands and feet to die.
“He was one of the sickest patients I have ever taken care of,” Dr. Elizabeth Steensma told WOOD.
The mysterious infection left doctors puzzled, so much so that Breen’s family was at one point told to prepare for the worst.
“That moment was terrifying to me,” his wife Julie Breen told the news station. “I just kind of lost it and stopped and prayed.”
But soon, doctors would discover what would become the key to his diagnosis – a rash on Breen’s upper torso.
Breen’s son had earlier had strep throat. Knowing that, doctors ran a test and found Breen too had strep throat, but his had traveled from his throat to his stomach.
According to Steensma, there are 32 reported cases of patients with strep throat traveling to the abdomen, though many of those cases were found in women’s urinary tracts. Breen is one of two men in the world to have the infection spread from his throat to his stomach.
Breen’s hands and feet turned black following the ordeal. They’ve lost all movement and will require amputation.
"Life is going to forever be different but different doesn't necessarily have to be bad,” Julie Breen told WOOD. “It's just going to be what we make it. And trying to figure this out and figure it out for our kid. Dad's gonna have cool hands. Dad's gonna have cool feet. You have to be positive."