Florida man nearly loses leg to rare flesh-eating infection after being bitten during family brawl

Francis Akhalbey June 12, 2023
Donnie Adams, 53, sustained a a rare flesh-eating bacterial infection after a relative bit him -- Photo Credit: HCA Florida Pasadena Hospital

A Florida man, who sustained a rare flesh-eating bacterial infection after a relative bit him in the thigh during a family brawl, was a day or two away from potentially having his leg amputated if he had not gone under the knife.

According to NBC News, 53-year-old Donnie Adams had gone to the hospital in February to seek medical care for a bump on his upper left thigh. The area he sustained the injury was said to be the size of a dollar coin. 

Though Adams was eventually discharged after receiving a tetanus shot and prescribed medication, his injury aggravated, as the spot later got red, swollen, and also painful when touched.

In an interview with the news outlet, Dr. Fritz Brink, a wound care specialist at HCA Florida Healthcare, said that the 53-year-old man’s thigh “almost looked like an orange peel because of the swelling that was underneath it.”

Adams also shared that his leg got swollen the third day after he sustained the injury, adding that “it felt very warm and I had problems with mobility and everything.” Brink said Adam informed him that he was breaking up a family brawl when he was bitten. 

“He pulled them off of each other, and in the process, he got bit,” Brink, who treated Adams, explained. The doctor also said the look of Adams’ injury corroborated the patient’s story.

“When I saw him in the hospital, you could still see the bite marks on his thigh,” Brink recalled. “It made teeth marks. I was very convinced that he was telling a true story.”

The doctor also stated that Adams quickly underwent surgery on February 19 before going under the knife again many days later. He was eventually discharged in March. “I knew it was serious then after I got the tetanus shot,” said Adams. “I had no imagination that it would be anything serious like this, that serious.”

The 53-year-old, however, did not disclose what caused the family fight or the name of the relative who bit him, NBC News reported. “Family is everything, and sometimes things go down in families,” Adams said. “I’m a man of faith. People can be forgiven, and that’s the way I feel about that. It was a family event that went sour between two people and even though I got in the middle of it and I got injured, it doesn’t mean I’m going to hate my family over this.”

Adams also said he would have lost his leg if he had “waited until the next day based on how the infection was growing in that region… It was a quiet storm,” he added.

Necrotizing fasciitis, also known as flesh-eating disease, is a “rare bacterial infection that spreads quickly in the body and can cause death,” per CDC. The bacteria usually enter the body “through a break in the skin.”

“More often than not, it’s a normal bacteria that lives on our skin and they utilized a weak point from an injury as an entryway,” Brink said.

The doctor also told NBC News that though hundreds of different bacteria can be found in the human mouth, it’s rare for them to treat patients for a life-threatening infection as a result of a human bite.

“I do expect him to make a full recovery,” Brink said. “He’s still going to feel that scar tissue on his thigh for a while to come, but his skin has completely healed.”

Adams initially moved around with a walker, following the surgery. He now walks correctly and without any pain. “I don’t think I could give you a 40 [-yard sprint] today, but maybe a 20,” Adams said.

Last Edited by:Annie-Flora Mills Updated: June 12, 2023

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