A Winnipeg mother who survived a brutal infection that claimed both of her legs and an arm is well on her way to leaving hospital and joining her young family in a new home.
Cari Kirkness’s illness started with a sore throat in early February. She thought she had the flu, but doctors quickly realized her situation was far more serious after the 28-year-old mother of two arrived at a local emergency room.
She was diagnosed with group A streptococcus, a bacteria often found in the throat and on the skin.
According to Manitoba Health, it can in rare cases lead to invasive, serious illnesses such as necrotizing fasciitis, commonly known as the flesh-eating disease, and deadly toxic shock syndrome.
Doctors were forced to amputate both of her legs and her right arm as the typically harmless infection spiraled out of control. Her family was given just 15 minutes to approve the drastic procedure.
After months in hospital, Kirkness is finally on the mend. Her days mainly consist of intensive rehab to build her strength, and learning to operating a wheelchair with one hand.
A GoFundMe page has raised more than $30,000 to help the family pay for a wheelchair-accessible van and a down payment on a house.
Kirkness’s road to recovery has not been an easy one, but she says daily visits from her family have helped keep her spirits high.
“I’ve had a few tiny breakdowns. I do it in front of my sister and my mom. They give me good advice and a good talk, and I feel better,” she told CTV News on Tuesday.
Kirkness’s mother Loretta credits the community members who rallied around her daughter over the past several months for helping her stay positive through the difficult ordeal.
“She’s so gung-ho,” Loretta said. “Her attitude is awesome.”
“I’m feeling great,” said Kirkness. “It’s very overwhelming. I wish there was more to say . . . than thank you. It’s a lot of support.”
The hospital has not given her a firm timeline for her release, but she hopes to complete her recovery in time to see her 11-year-old son Chaz’s Grade 6 graduation.
“I want to be out to see him do that,” she said. “I just have to keep exercising and getting stronger.”
With a report from CTV Winnipeg’s Jon Hendricks