Mom 'grateful to be alive' after flesh-eating infection - FOX Carolina 21

Mom 'grateful to be alive' after flesh-eating infection

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Lana Kuykendall with her husband Darren talks with the media. (July 16, 2012/FOX Carolina) Lana Kuykendall with her husband Darren talks with the media. (July 16, 2012/FOX Carolina)
Lana Kuykendall walks during therapy. (Greenville Hospital System) Lana Kuykendall walks during therapy. (Greenville Hospital System)
GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) -

An Upstate mother said she is grateful to be alive during her first press conference since being diagnosed with a flesh-eating bacterial infection two months ago.

Lana Kuykendall, a paramedic, was with her husband Darren along with her doctors at Greenville Memorial Hospital on Monday morning. This was her first appearance since she was admitted May 11.

She told a crowded room of reporters, hospital staff and fellow paramedics that, "I am just very grateful to be alive and I thank everyone who has been involved with that."

One of her strongest supporters, Kuykendall's husband, has been by her side the entire time.

"He was there every day and I know that made an impression on them and on me," said Kuykendall. "I always knew that he loved me but that's a lot to say that he was at my bedside every day."

In May, days after giving birth to twins Ian and Abigail, Kuykendall was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis and underwent 20 surgical procedures and other treatments. 

Kuykendall has been at GHS's Roger C. Peace Rehabilitation Hospital since the end of June. Throughout her treatment and recovery, the couple's twins were cared for by friends and family.

SLIDESHOW: Kuykendall receives therapy, spends times with twins

Since moving to the rehab hospital, Kuykendall has physical and occupational therapy twice a day and is on a regular diet. In June, her tracheotomy device was removed, and she began to communicate normally with family, friends and her medical team.

When asked about how the infection all started, Kuykendall said Monday that it was sudden, and she got treatment right away.

"I remembered the birth and I remembered coming home with them and I remembered going to the hospital because I thought I had a blood clot," said Kuykendall. "I don't remember much after that."

Kuykendall said she sought help after noticing strip on the back of her left thigh, which she thought was a clot, but it became clear fast that something more was going on.

One of Kuykendall's doctors said Monday the progression of the infection was fast and aggressive.

"These flesh eating bacteria grow so rapidly that you can actually see the skin change in front of your eyes," said Dr. Spence Taylor. "You can actually see the growth over time."

Since May, more than 70 doctors and 250 nurses have helped in Kuykendall's recovery. The medical staff said they tried everything and anything they could to treat her as aggressively as possible, including operating on her 18 days straight.

Taylor said after they stopped the infection, she received surgical skin grafts over approximately 25 percent of her total body surface prior to moving to the rehab hospital.

While doctors have not said where or how Kuykendall got the infection, they said she could have gotten it from the smallest cut.

Doctors said Kuykendall could be released from the rehab hospital as early as tomorrow but most likely sometime this week. She will receive at home care and then attend outpatient therapy as she continues to recover.

Copyright 2012 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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