Jeffersonville man fights to save limbs from flesh eating bacteria


by Claudia Coffey

Posted on February 20, 2012 at 6:38 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 20 at 6:42 PM

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WHAS11) -- A Jeffersonville man is lucky to still have his leg after a flesh eating bacteria spun out of control inside his body.

Steve Gill said what started as a tiny cut quickly spread, and if not for a team of doctors and nurses at the Norton Wound Care Center, he could have lost all of his limbs. The team was able to stop the infection and salvage what limbs they could.

"The center just opened here in January and already they are seeing a number of patients. This hyperbaric chambers is just one of the ways they are treating them," Gill said. 

Gill is now able to walk around his apartment after having the toes on his right foot amputated six months ago, but the fight is not over. Gill must continue to fight to save his limbs.

"I just had a little bitty cut on my foot . Just a small cut under my big toe," Gill said.

What started small, quickly spread and Gill said it wasn't long before he couldn't walk.

Doctors at the wound care center did one surgery to remove the infected tissue. Then, they said they discovered it was far worse, the bacteria had infected Gill's bones.

Gill said they journey has been emotional and upsetting, but support from his family has helped. At times he said he thought he was going to lose his foot. He said the possibility of losing his foot scared him the most.

Dr Jeffery Sharpe, director of the Norton Brownsboro Wound Care Center, said his concern was that Gill would lose his entire leg from the knee down. His team used a variety of treatments, even a hyperbaric chamber.

"If a limb can be saved we have every means at our disposal here to do that. From diagnosis to developing a treatment plan and that's always the number one goal, is the attempt to save a limb especially is a patient is functioning," Sharpe said.

Gill said he feels lucky. He's had to learn to walk again and said its considerably tougher without his toes. 

He said he has good days and bad, but he feels like he's on the right path.

"It's doing much much better," Gill said.