Woman Loses Eye, Cheek to Flesh-Eating Bacteria

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An English woman may have lost an eye and part of her face to rare, flesh-eating bacteria, but believes she is lucky to be alive, BBC reported Wednesday.

Tracy Marjoram, 42, of Norfolk, England, was gardening in June 2005 when she felt an itching sensation in the corner of her eye.

The mother-of-two was taken to Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital where she was diagnosed with a necrotizing fasciitis infection, also called flesh-eating bacteria, and placed in the intensive care unit. Surgeons at the hospital immediately operated to remove the infected tissue, and performed three separate surgeries to reconstruct Marjoram’s face, the news agency reported.

Necrotizing fasciitis is a rare bacterial infection that attacks the skin and the soft tissues beneath it – including fat and the tissue covering the muscles – causing it to decay. The bacteria most often enters the body through an opening in the skin, but can also penetrate through skin weakened by a bruise, blister or abrasion, according to the National Necrotizing Fasciitis Foundation’s Web site.

The life-threatening infection cost Marjoram her right eye, as well as her upper cheek.

"I owe [the surgeon] my life, and the staff..." Marjoram said. "I felt like a freak when I first came out of the hospital."

Dr. Bijan Beigi, a surgeon who operated on Marjoram, said he’s only seen five similar cases in the past 10 years.

“Once the disease has spread to the neck and chest, there is a 90 percent chance of dying,” Beigi told BBC. "Going through that and coming out of it is an achievement for her."

Click here to read more on this story from BBC.