Billi-Jo Whitlock had surgery on her abdomen in 2004, but she developed an infection shortly thereafter, and she has been battling for her life ever since, northlandsnewscenter.com reported Thursday.

Whitlock, 38, of Hibbing, Minn., developed a flesh-eating bacteria disease. To rid her of this, surgeons removed 24 pounds of skin, flesh, tissue and cells.

“They gutted me down to my vital organs,” Whitlock told the TV station. “I woke up and it had eaten me from my breasts to my thighs.”

Doctors had given Whitlock a three percent survival rate after that operation and she endured nine hours of bandage changes each day.

It took three-and-a-half years for her wounds to close, and then, another problem: malnutrition.

“With the malnutrition and malabsorption, the protein, everything is being eaten out of me, the body is eating everything alive to heal itself so it leaves me with nothing,” Whitlock said. “Most of my teeth are gone or broken.”

Click here to read the full story from northlandsnewscenter.com.