A 16 year-old girl who battled a deadly flesh-eating infection this past summer was named homecoming princess at her high school over the weekend, the Washington Post reported.

Alexis Hanford, from Bethesda, Md., was on vacation near Ukiah, Calif., when she cut her leg on a tree while jumping into a lake.  At the hospital, doctors removed wood from the wound and stitched her up.  But days later, back in Bethesda, the skin around the stitches began to bruise and swell – until her leg burst.

Alexis was rushed to Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where doctors put her on an intravenous drip with a broad spectrum of antibiotics and wheeled her in for a total of 17 surgeries to remove dead muscle and tissue.

In a novel intervention, the doctors also mixed in small beads of cement with the antibiotics, which were delivered directly to the wound and replaced during the surgeries, the Post reported.

The infection was successfully eradicated, but Alexis – a former soccer player – must still use a wheelchair while she learns to walk again and will always have to use a small brace.

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Alexis is now being tutored at home and knows she will likely not be able to graduate with her friends.  Nevertheless, she returned to school Friday for the Homecoming pep rally – her first big outing since the infection – where she was crowned homecoming princess.

“I love this school,” Alexis told the Post. “I am just so happy to be here.”

Alexis’s best friend, 16-year-old Lily Blum, has set up a nonprofit named “Alexis Healing Project” in order to raise funds for Children’s National and thank the doctors who saved Alexis’s life.  Click here for more information.

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