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Patient Stories: Kate Wilson

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Kate’s parents saved her life by bringing her into the emergency room following a staph infection.

Today, Kate Wilson is a perfectly healthy fifth grader from central Indiana. But when she was just nine months old, a deadly infection nearly took her life.

In September 2006, Kate was a happy baby attending a local daycare while her parents worked. One Monday, while giving her a bath, her parents noticed that she had a slightly red bottom, but Kate wasn’t causing a fuss, so they weren’t too concerned.

By Friday Kate’s condition had deteriorated and she had developed an open sore. Kate’s parents took her to the doctor, who performed a quick exam, took a culture and told Kate’s parents the results would come back by Monday. If Kate got worse, the doctor recommended they take her to the emergency room.

Following the visit, Kate returned to daycare. That afternoon, her daycare provider noticed a white discharge in Kate’s diaper and told her parents it looked like a staph infection.

Her father rushed her to the emergency room at the Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis. Emergency room staff sprang into action, running tests on Kate. The result came back immediately. Kate had a difficult-to-treat infection called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

“The emergency room doctors told us that if we had waited until Saturday morning to bring Kate in it would have been too late.” said Andi Wilson, Kate’s mother. “The infection was spreading so fast that there would have been nothing they could do to stop it.”

The following morning Kate had an hour-long surgical procedure to remove the infected tissue. Doctors ultimately removed so much tissue that the procedure left a pocket the size of a lemon in her bottom. Kate remained in the hospital for four days while she healed. During her stay, she was given four antibiotics intravenously, which were the strongest antibiotics they could give an infant.

Shortly after leaving the hospital, Kate’s parents took her to see an infectious diseases specialist to assess her recovery and learn how to prevent this type of infection in the future. Since then, her family has changed many things around the house. They no longer use bar soap, disinfect everything with a bleach solution and use towels only once before washing them.

“Back then MRSA was a scary word. If we had spoken out about this then, people would have been afraid to be around her,” said Andi. “Now that it’s more common, we can talk about it and raise much-needed awareness about antibiotic-resistant infections.”

Today, Kate is a healthy and active 11-year-old who enjoys playing basketball and soccer. She’s also a budding artist who loves to paint and draw. She has a knack for making things her own, by taking an item and adding her own personal touch.

When she grows up she’d like to become a veterinarian – possibly a combat veterinarian helping animals in the military. Her passion for and love of animals comes from a lifetime of living with them. Her family has three dogs, a cat, and a pet rat.

Looking back on the events in 2006, Kate’s mother reflects on how close they came to losing her.

“My husband and I knew Kate’s condition was alarming but didn’t realize it was life threatening. Throughout everything, Kate was so strong – you wouldn’t have known she was hurting,” said Andi. “I’m thankful for a quick-thinking daycare provider and a fast-driving husband.”

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