After being resuscitated in a USC Verdugo Hills Hospital operating room, Alfred Lopez was transferred to Keck Medical Center of USC on May 12, on a ventilator, in septic shock and experiencing multi-organ failure.
Alfred, a 56-year-old Ralph’s market produce worker, had necrotizing fasciitis, a rare bacterial infection that usually enters the body through an open wound and rapidly spreads through soft tissue, eating away at muscle and flesh at an alarming rate of an inch an hour.
In Alfred’s case, there was no trace of an open wound. Without being able to locate the origin of the flesh-eating disease in his body, the Keck Medical Center team raced against the clock to save his right leg — which had tripled in size — and his life.
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“When they told me what it was, I knew we had a long battle,” said his sister Aurora Jubile, who had encountered the disease during her 31 years of experience as a registered nurse.
A CT scan finally pinpointed the disease’s source: A plum-sized abscess had ruptured in Alfred’s rectum and had spread into the soft tissues of his right leg.
“I was scared, but I had a lot of faith,” said Alfred, who has trouble remembering the early details of his ordeal because of the heavy sedation and pain he was in.
Alfred finally started turning a corner, thanks to the aggressive and unified approach taken by Keck Medical Center’s experienced surgeons, nurses and wound care physical therapists.
“Alfred survived with excellent functional results because of the state-of-the-art multidisciplinary team effort” available at Keck Medical Center, said Demetrios Demetriades, MD, PhD, director of the trauma and surgical intensive care unit division at the hospital and professor of surgery at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
Demetriades performed seven of the 10 surgeries Alfred received during a three-and-a-half-month period.