Flesh Eating Bacteria Leaves Woman With Hole in Abdomen

A woman who received cosmetic abdomen surgery earlier this year was left fighting for her life after contracting a rare bacteria.

Brenna McIntosh, a 29-year-old woman from Australia, is now recovering from the bacterial infection after doctors put her in an induced coma. She also has an open wound on her abdomen that will be closed with further surgery.

McIntosh had gone for a surgical procedure known as an abdominoplasty—popularly known as a "tummy tuck"—which is a cosmetic surgery that aims to tighten up abdominal muscles and reduce excess skin around the belly. McIntosh wanted the procedure after she naturally lost 40 kilograms of weight beforehand.

Tummy tuck
A stock photo depicts a doctor drawing lines on a person's stomach ahead of cosmetic surgery. A tummy tuck is a type of surgery that can remove extra fat and skin from the abdomen. Ivan-balvan/Getty

The surgery itself was carried out successfully, and McIntosh stayed with her friend Lauren Vanderven while she recovered. Vanderven, who had had the procedure done herself, soon noticed that something wasn't right.

McIntosh had been sweating excessively despite not having a fever, and she and Vanderven also agreed that her belly button looked as though it might be infected. McIntosh was give a dose of antibiotics, but her condition did not improve.

The 29-year-old was admitted to hospital after her temperature spiked. There, scans revealed that her body was fighting a bacterial infection known as necrotizing fasciitis—a rare but serious infection that can spread quickly and prove fatal.

Necrotizing fasciitis is referred to as a very serious "flesh-eating disease" by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which states it can be caused when bacteria enters the body through breaks in the skin. This can include cuts and scrapes, burns, insect bites, puncture wounds, and surgical wounds. People can also get it after an injury that does not break the skin.

Doctors placed McIntosh in a coma and transferred her to a different hospital where she is now receiving oxygen therapy which can help stop the bacteria's spread. She also had surgery to remove areas of infection.

McIntosh was in her coma for a week. Now, she faces several more weeks in hospital and an even longer recovery period ahead of her even after surgeons can close the wound in her abdomen.

But according to Vanderven, McIntosh remains positive. "She obviously is processing the news and everything that happened but she is always taking the little wins," Vanderven told Australian news outlet 7News.

Due to McIntosh having to take significant time off work and bills still needing to be paid, Vanderven has started a GoFundMe page to help her friend focus on recovery instead of finances.

As of Friday morning, the fundraiser, titled Brenna's Recovery, had gained $9,000 Australian dollars ($6,578 USD) of its $10,000 goal.