Woman loses fingers, toes after deadly strep throat infection

A Tennessee woman who nearly died after a rare strep throat infection said she feels lucky to have escaped missing only a few fingers and toes after reading a similar story about a Michigan patient last week.

“There was a pretty big chance I could have died,” Shelby Smith told Fox 6. “I started shaking and convulsing and my lips started turning blue and my eyes were rolling in the back of my head.”

After being rushed to the hospital via ambulance, Smith learned that she was going into septic shock, Fox 6 reported. Doctors placed Smith in a medically-induced coma when her organs started shutting down and her throat began closing.

To save her organs, doctors redirected blood flow from her limbs, similar to what happened with 44-year-old Kevin Breen. Dr. Jeffry King, Smith’s doctor, told Fox 6 that her case was extremely rare, with only a few hundred reported in the U.S. each year.

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“I’d say this is one of the most life-threatening illnesses that we see as far as bacterial infection,” King told Fox 6.

As was the case with Breen, Smith did not present symptoms typical of a strep infection before doctors could determine what was causing her illness. As a result, the treatment cut blood flow to several of her fingers and toes. She lost two toes on her left foot, her left index finger and was only left with one joint on her right hand.

“Either buckle under the pressure or I can pick myself up and make a new normal,” Smith told Fox 6 of her missing fingers.