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Teen Who Contracted Flesh-Eating Bacteria Receives Treatment At Sinai

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- A teenage boy is receiving treatment for flesh-eating bacteria at a Maryland hospital.

Sixteen-year-old Kahlil Colkley from North Carolina was visiting Baltimore with his family when he started showing symptoms for strep bacteria.

Over the course of a couple of days, Colkley developed a fever, chills and noticed something spreading on his leg. That's when his mom brought him here to the emergency room. The hospital room was the last place he expected to be.

Khalil Copley
Khalil Copley Credit: WJZ Photo via family
Khalil Copley
Khalil Copley Credit: WJZ Photo via family
Copley Family
Copley Family Credit: WJZ Photo via family

Kahlil's mom, Christel, said over four or five days, her son complained of a fever.

He also had what looked like a bug bite that had spread up his ankle. It was blistering and bruising.

[WARNING] The photos linked here and below may be deemed graphic. Please take caution when scrolling down. 

"If we would have waited another day or who knows hours he may not have been here at all," Christel said.

Doctors at Sinai Hospital recognized Kahlil's symptoms as a step bacterial infection and what has become commonly known as flesh-eating bacteria.

"The tissue plains are being dissected by the infection, the blood flow to the skin is cut off and so all this tissue winds up dying because the infection is cut off the blood supply to the skin, that's sort of the reason why it gets that scary name," Dr. Janet Conway, of Sinai Hospital, said.

Conway said since Kahlil was admitted just over a month ago, he's had about 10 surgeries on his leg.

That's because the bacteria is so pervasive - and sometimes they don't know if they've removed all of the bacterial in one setting.

"I went through a lot of emotions, especially seeing him in a sedated coma with the breathing tube because of him having to go in and out of surgery," his mother said.

Kahlil's most recent surgery was a skin graft on his leg. Doctors said the procedure was a success and they'll keep an eye on Kahlil here in the hospital for another month while he recovers.

"It's a good thing because he's my helper, he does everything," Christel said.

His mom can't say where he may have contracted the bacteria but told WJZ's Rachel Menitoff that is started with a bug bite on the teen's ankle.

She wants everyone to understand that this requires immediate treatment because it could save your life and your limb.

"We made it through the hardest part," she said.

The good news is the boy will not lose his leg. Doctors believe the leg will be fully functional after rehab. Kahlil's doctor said he will have some scarring on his leg.

Doctors warn that if you have an open cut to avoid swimming in untreated water. Also, anyone with diabetes or a compromised immune system could be at a higher risk of infection. If you develop a cut while swimming in untreated water, make sure to wash the wound quickly and carefully.

If you notice a cut, bug bite or soft tissue that is infected, and that the infection appears to be spreading, coupled with a high fever, go to your nearest emergency room right away. These infections can be light-threatening. So, the faster they are caught and treated, the better likelihood for success.

Here are photos of the teen's leg following several surgeries and skin grafts.

Khalil flesh-eating bacteria 2
Credit: WJZ Photo via family
flesh eating bacteria
Credit: WJZ Photo via family



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