A pregnant woman has lost her unborn child and both of her arms and legs after contracting a deadly sepsis infection due to complications from her pregnancy.
Kayleigh Ferguson-Walker, 31, was six months pregnant with her second child in March when what seemed like a bad case of the flu quickly landed her in the ICU with kidney failure, labored breathing, and dropping blood pressure.
Kayleigh had developed the life-threatening sepsis infection that doctors discovered had already claimed the life of her unborn baby forcing a stillbirth upon arriving at the hospital.
While in a two-week medically-induced coma, Sun Sentinel reports that gangrene set in and began killing Kayleigh’s arms and legs making it clear the only way to save her life was to perform a rare quadruple amputation.
Sepsis caused the nerves in Kayleigh Ferguson-Walker’s hands and feet to die forcing doctors to perform a quadruple amputation to save her life
Kayleigh contracted a deadly infection while six months pregnant in March
Kayleigh Ferguson-Walker, 31, is pictured with her husband Ramon after leaving their church in Florida
When Kayleigh emerged from her two-week coma she told the Sun Sentinel she looked down and ‘my hands and feet were pitch black, dead.’
Plastic surgeon Dr James Fletcher of Broward Health Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, said that Kayleigh came back to consciousness responsive and talkative but her limbs had become extremely toxic.
Kayleigh was put into a two-week coma as her gangrene set in and took over her limbs
Fletcher operated on Kayleigh’s arms and hands on April 19. Her right arm was severed above the elbow and the left arm about three inches below the elbow.
Two days later, both of Kayleigh’s legs were amputated below the knees.
It’s likely that Kayleigh contracted sepsis through a complication in her pregnancy caused by a rare condition known as incompetent cervix. Pressure from the growing baby may have caused the cervical tissue to open prematurely, increasing the risk of infection.
Dr Fletcher had to explain to Kayleigh and her family the choice to operate was life or death-either amputation or brain damage. He told the Sun Sentinel: ‘It’s a miracle she didn’t die.’
Now Kayleigh is adjusting to life as a quadruple amputee, supported by her three-year-old daughter Aaliyah and husband Ramon.
Nearly two million people are amputees in the US and 507 amputations take place every day, according to the Amputee Coalition.
But losing all four limbs from extreme illness, trauma, and in Kayleigh’s case sepsis, ‘is quite rare, and often brings additional health challenges and a dramatic life shift,’ Karen Lundquist, a spokeswoman for the nonprofit Amputee Coalition, told Sun Sentinel.
Kayleigh is waiting for her limbs to heal to be fitted with prosthetic arms and legs by Hanger Clinic, a south Florida company that designs prosthetics.
But one of the biggest challenges for the mom as a quadruple amputee will be getting in and out of the prosthetics independently.
Though she lost her unborn child to the infection, she still has a three-year-old daughter, Aaliyah, to care for
Her husband Ramon is a deacon at the couple’s church as said: ‘I look at my wife and I don’t see a disabled person. I see her abled, with prosthetics’
Kayleigh’s friends and family have set up a GoFundMe in her name which has raised close to the $50,000 goal. Their medical bills along with the costs of prosthetics will reach over a million dollars
Matthew Kline, an area manager for Hanger Clinic told the Sun Sentinel: ‘As technology goes, there is nothing stopping her from becoming independent. From the first day I saw her in the hospital, she has had a very positive outlook, a strong support system, and a great smile. I think she has the will to do this.’
WHAT IS SEPSIS?
Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening complication of an infection.
Sepsis occurs when chemicals released into the bloodstream to fight the infection trigger inflammatory responses throughout the body.
This inflammation can trigger changes that can damage multiple organ systems, causing them to fail.
If sepsis progresses to septic shock, blood pressure drops dramatically, which may lead to death.
Anyone can develop it but it’s most common and most dangerous in older adults or those with weakened immune systems. Early treatment of sepsis, usually with antibiotics and large amounts of intravenous fluids, improves chances for survival.
Kayleigh’s extended family was by her bedside for two weeks while she was in the coma. Family and friends would massage her limbs as they continued to swell and die.
Her husband is a deacon at their local church where the community welcomed Kayleigh for the first time since her amputation in early September.
She was wheeled in by Ramon with both feet covered while wearing a bright yellow dress and a huge smile.
She said to the congregation: ‘Today I’m just amazed to be here, to be able to talk, to see, to praise God.’
And although the couple have health insurance, hospital bills, treatment and prosthetic limbs could come to millions of dollars, according to Dr Fletcher.
Relatives have set up a GoFundMe that has nearly reached their goal of $50,000.
‘I look at my wife and I don’t see a disabled person. I see her abled, with prosthetics,’ Ramon told the Sun Sentinel. ‘She’s going to walk, cook, do things for herself. It might look like it’s devastating and the worst thing that could happen to someone. But it’s life.’
Kayleigh hopes to return to her job as a pharmacy technician at a Coral Springs Walgreens.
She imagines coming home from work while Aaliyah is there to greet her.
‘Every time I came home from work, I would dance with her,’ said Kayleigh. ‘So I say to her, when I get my legs the first thing we’re going to do is dance. And that puts a big smile on her face.’
Kayleigh hopes to dance with her three-year-old again as they used to once she gets fitted for her prosthetics and learns to use them