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New Mom Infected by Flesh-Eating Bacteria Almost Home

(Photo credit: Greenville Hospital System/CNN)

(Photo credit: Greenville Hospital System/CNN)

By the CNN Wire Staff

GREENVILLE, South Carolina (CNN) — Lana Kuykendall — the South Carolina woman infected with flesh-eating bacteria shortly after giving birth to twins more than two months ago — will go home soon, a doctor said Monday.

“She’ll be heading home this week,” said Dr. Spence Taylor, vice president for academics at Greenville Hospital System. “She’s making a great recovery.”

Kuykendall, who clasped hands with her husband, Darren, through a short news conference, said her recovery has had ups and downs.

“At times I will focus that the best thing for (the twins) is for me to get better. And sometimes I just break down and cry,” she said, wearing a blue T-shirt that read “FAITH HOPE LANA .” She added, “I have my moments of pain and discomfort but I’m also getting stronger every day.”

Darren Kuykendall said family and friends have been caring for the twins.

Lana Kuykendall was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis on May 11, four days after giving birth, and taken to Greenville Memorial Hospital. She has undergone more than 20 surgical procedures, including skin grafts and reconstructive surgery. But she did not require any amputations, as recently occurred in the case of 24-year-old Aimee Copeland of Georgia, who lost her hands, a leg and a foot as a result of the infection.

A number of bacteria, which are common in the environment but rarely cause serious infections, can lead to the disease. When the bacteria get into the bloodstream — such as through a cut — doctors typically move aggressively to excise even healthy tissue near the infection site in hopes of ensuring none of the dangerous bacteria remain.

The disease attacks and destroys healthy tissue and is fatal in about 20% of cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, fewer than 250 such cases occur each year in the United States, though estimates are imprecise because doctors aren’t required to report the cases to health authorities.