Teacher wins life-or-death battle with flesh-eating bacteria

Connie Davidson had 34 surgeries

CINCINNATI  - Christmas Eve turned into a nightmare for Connie Davidson last year.

The pre-school teacher contracted a rare flesh-eating bacteria and had to fight for her life.

More than four months in the hospital and nearly three dozen surgeries later, she is cured and back to work.  

But what a grueling, perilous journey!

WCPO went with Davidson when she recently made an emotional return to Jewish Hospital.

Why so emotional?

“It's because I almost lost my life,” she said.

Jewish Hospital is where her harrowing journey started. Davidson recalled going to the emergency room a year ago.

“I thought they'd just give me some antibiotics and I'd be on my way ... they did some blood work, and the next thing you know, I was loaded into an ambulance.”

Doctors don't know how she got it They said they saw 4-5 cases in the past year, and hers was the worst.

“The disease actually went to my shoulder and ate through my shoulder,” Davidson said.

She spent  4½ months in the Jewish Hospital critical care unit and underwent 34 surgeries to remove diseased tissue.

"I was my own (skin) donor … took grafts off my leg, and grafted it to my shoulder,” she said.

Her condition was fragile, Davidson’s sister remembers.

“Worry. Worry every day,” said Elaine Davidson. “Because when the doc would come in, the prognosis wasn't always so good.

“It's really remarkable how far she's come," said Dr. Neil Kundu, Mercy Health plastic surgeon.

“She had a pretty substantial amount of tissue loss. Her whole upper arm, shoulder, the muscles all lymph nodes taken out. She's a testament to strong will."

Davidson is walking with cane, but the miracle is she’s walking.

Davidson had her faith, family, friends to help her through, not to mention her doctors and nurses.

She brought them flowers on her one-year visit.

"You went above and beyond,” she told a nurse before hugging her.

“Thank you,” the nurse said.

Davidson had a message for other people going through tough times.

“If it's one step, take it. If it's one push, do it,” she said.

"I'm living proof."

She said her focus this Christmas isn't on shopping and rushing around.

She's spending time with the people who are precious to her.

 

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