A Utah mother developed a flesh-eating bacterial infection just after giving birth to her son via C-section in May.
Instead of going home with her new baby boy, Essence Blackhurst, 21, was confined to the hospital where doctors had to remove her infected tissue and treat the new mom with antibiotics.
Meanwhile, Essence’s aunt had to look after Eli, as his immune system was not yet developed enough to fight off the contagious infection his mother was battling.
Essence was lucky, however, and doctors were able to get the infection under control so they could send her home to hold her son.
Essence Blackhurst had to be separated from her newborn son, Eli, for the better part of the first three weeks of his life while she battled a flesh-eating bacterial infection she developed after her C-section
Once someone contracts necrotizing fasciitis, the infection can spread like wildfire and destroy tissue faster than doctors can contain the disease.
It’s rare, but ruthless, striking just 600 to 700 Americans a year.
However, even with fast treatment, about one in every three people that contracts the dangerous bacterial infection will not survive.
Essense Blackhurst is lucky to be among the two that do.
Her son, Eli knows what his mother smells like from her worn t-shirts, which Essence’s aunt, Arla Harris, carefully wrapped him in for the first three weeks of his life.
Meanwhile, Essence was undergoing operation after operation, and wishing to hold her baby boy from her hospital bed at Ogden Regional Medical Center.
Essence delivered Eli on May 29, and was overjoyed to see her son was perfect.
But something didn’t feel quite right, about herself, Essence recalls.
‘I knew something was wrong,’ she told KSL.com.
Almost as soon as the C-section was over, the fever set in, and vomiting wasn’t far behind.
‘It just seems like it never got under control,’ said her aunt, Arla.
Then the red started creeping up from Essence’s low abdomen upward.
The flesh-eating bacterial infection spread up Essence’s abdomen and she had to have five surgeries to remove the dying tissue
She couldn’t be around Eli (right) while she recovered because a newborn’s immune system is not fully developed, an necrotizing fasciitis can be highly contagious
It didn’t look like a terribly painful wound, but it certainly felt like one, Essence remembers.
‘It just hurt, I just felt like something was wrong, like it wasn’t supposed to feel like that,’ she said.
That is the classic sign that necrotizing fasciitis might be setting in, according tothe Mayo Clinic, which describes the pain of the disease as ‘worse than a person would expect based on the wound’s appearance.’
Wound infections are not uncommon complications of C-sections, affecting between two and 16 percent of women that undergo the procedure, depending upon the infection type.
Essence is finally home with Eli, and family says both mother and baby are drawing strength from one another
C-sections are common, but still major surgeries, requiring doctors to cut through many layers of tissue.
Necrotizing fasciitis infections account for just 0.18 percent of the total C-section infections.
But all of this was a shock to Essence.
‘I had no idea what was going on, so it was scary,’ she said.
She had to have five surgeries to remove the dying, infected skin from her body and was put on a course of antibiotics.
Meahwhile, Arla kept showing pictures of his mother to baby Eli.
At last, Essence is well enough to be reunited with her son, and Arla says its good for both mother and baby.
‘I know it’s that baby,’ Arla said.
‘She wants him so bad. I know he’s her strength right now.’