It’s difficult to imagine, but a horrible case of strep throat will soon cost a west Michigan man his feet and hands. Doctors at Spectrum Hospital in Grand Rapids are studying the extremely rare case. They said the man is one of only two men in the world with a situation this bad. Kevin Breen’s son had strep throat and fought it off with no problem, but for some reason, Breen nearly died from the illness. The amputations happened on Wednesday. Breen’s hands and feet have turned black and have lost almost all movement.
He said, “This one I can move a little.” He now relies on Julie, his wife, to do pretty much everything. He further added, “I never thought to go in for a stomach ache and coming out a totally different person, and life changing.” It all started when he started feeling ill on Christmas Day. After some days, his stomach pain was so unbearable he went to the emergency room. Doctors found his stomach was filling with puss, but they didn’t know why. At some point, if time, his wife was told to gather family and prepare for the worst. She said, “That moment was terrifying.”
Doctors said a rash on Breen’s upper torso was a hint a common sign of strep in his belly. It’s assumed he got it from his son. The strep traveled from his throat to his stomach and his body couldn’t fight it. A doctor said, “So necessarily he just had a very strong strain of it, and he was very susceptible to it.” Despite that storm, changing Breen’s life forever, he’s the first to admit he’s glad to still be alive. Breen said, “Life is going to be different forever, but different doesn’t needfully have to be bad.”
His doctors said they’ve only found 32 cases of strep traveling to the abdomen. In women, most are from the urinary track. Breen is one of two men in the world who has had this happen. When people hear that something like strep throat leads to amputations, it raises concerns, but Dr. Frank McGeorge said this obviously isn’t common. It’s likely that the damage to his hands and feet were also part of the larger picture of an overwhelming infection that affected his circulation. So it was not quite as simple as strep throat leading to amputations. I do want to point out, strep can cause many complications, including rheumatic fever, kidney damage, toxic shock syndrome and even behave as a flesh-eating bacteria.”