A young Nova Scotia mother is being treated for a severe case of flesh-eating disease diagnosed days after she gave birth to her first child and was placed in an induced coma to protect her from the aggressive infection, her family says.
Relatives of Lindsey Hubley said the 33-year-old headed home after having her son, Myles Owen, in what was described as a smooth delivery in Halifax on March 2. But she was rushed back to hospital by ambulance on March 6 after experiencing pain and becoming gravely ill in a short time.
Susan Hubley, her sister-in-law, said she went into surgery almost immediately after arriving and was found to have a group A streptococcal infection, which was linked to necrotizing fasciitis, and was going into septic shock.
"Our whole family went in because we didn't know if she was going to make it — for quite a number of days, it was very up and down," she said Friday, adding that they were stunned to learn of the diagnosis. "She was going to go on maternity leave, but now will go onto long-term disability .... She will have a long rehabilitation because of what happened."
Online fundraiser brings in donations
Susan said doctors placed Lindsey in a coma, but brought her out of it gradually about a week ago following several surgeries that are typically done to remove diseased tissue. She said it took a while for Lindsey to be able to speak after coming out of the coma, but is trying to put a brave face on what she and her fiance, Mike Sampson, expect will be a long recovery.
"Cognitively, she's incredible — she's 1,000 per cent," said Susan. "She has said she just wants this to be done so she can go home and be a mom. She's being as strong as she can."
Susan and her family started a GoFundMe page about two days ago and had raised close to $51,000 by late Friday. She said the money will likely be used to help make adaptations to the home and anything else the couple requires when Lindsey is released from the hospital, which could take up to a few months.
The family didn't want to reveal information about Lindsey's condition, saying it was too early to know what kinds of limitations she may have.
'We do see cases every year'
Todd Hatchett, the head of microbiology for the Nova Scotia Health Authority, said the province usually sees one or two cases of necrotizing fasciitis a year and that the public shouldn't be alarmed by this latest occurrence.
"Having the odd case here or there is something that we see and it doesn't seem at this point to any more unusual than our typical patterns, but it's something that we aggressively watch for," he said.
"I don't think people need to be overly concerned about this at this point. We do see cases every year, but it's always tragic when someone has a really bad infection."
A 28-year-old Manitoba woman recently lost both legs and an arm after contracting the group A streptococcus bacteria, which spread to her limbs before doctors could contain it. Reports indicate the mother of two was initially thought to have the flu.
Hatchett explained that the bacterial infection that can live on the skin or throat can become more invasive and get into the blood and tissue, possibly leading to necrotizing fasciitis.
Overwhelmed by support
Lesley Mulcahy, a spokesperson for the Nova Scotia Health Authority, confirmed that they had a recent case of severe invasive group A strep. She added that so far in 2017, there have been seven cases of invasive group A strep in the province, four of which were non-severe. She said the numbers were consistent with what they have seen in prior years.
Susan said her sister-in-law remembers little of what happened after she became sick and hasn't been able to see her baby since then. She said Lindsey, a mobility manager for Jazz Aviation, was amazed by the donations that have come in.
"She has seen the GoFundMe page and she is so grateful and is overwhelmed with the support," said Susan. "The main reason we wanted to do the page was it's going to be a very long time before she's going to be able to go home and when she can go home, we're not entirely sure what she'll need."