- Brenna McIntosh developed necrotizing fasciitis in her abdomen following a tummy tuck
- She was put in an induced coma for a week and is now undergoing daily surgeries and oxygen therapy
- A GoFundMe campaign was launched to help cover McIntosh’s expenses
A 29-year-old woman from the Australian state of Tasmania developed a rare bacterial infection after going through a routine cosmetic surgery.
Brenna McIntosh received an abdominoplasty, also known as a tummy tuck, on March 23 to remove excess belly skin after naturally losing 40 kilograms (88 pounds), PerthNow reported.
One of McIntosh’s friends, Lauren Vanderven, noticed that “something was off” a day after the surgery, according to 7News.com.au.
McIntosh, who lives and works in Melbourne as an employee for Woolworths, reportedly began sweating excessively despite having no fever. Her belly button also appeared infected. She went to the doctor but was told not to worry.
However, McIntosh’s condition got worse the next few days, and she started to suspect seroma, a build-up of fluids under the skin that is sometimes caused by surgery.
She was taken to Melbourne’s Alfred Hospital, where blood work revealed an infection, while an ultrasound showed an abnormality around her stomach.
Doctors later discovered during an emergency surgery that McIntosh’s abdomen was infected with necrotizing fasciitis, a rare bacterial infection “that spreads quickly in the body and can cause death,” according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The bug, which has reportedly only been linked to one more abdominoplasty in the world, was attacking muscles inside McIntosh’s body.
Surgeons left McIntosh’s wound open at the end of an operation and placed a special vacuum-like gauze over it to prevent further infection and encourage healing.
McIntosh stayed in an intensive care unit and was placed in an induced coma for a week to help her body cope with the stress.
She eventually came out of the coma with a smile, Vanderven said.
“She is so positive. She obviously is processing the news and everything that happened, but she is always taking the little wins,” her friend said.
McIntosh is currently undergoing oxygen therapy and daily surgeries to remove the dead and infected tissues caused by the necrotizing fasciitis, sometimes called the “flesh-eating disease” despite the bacteria never literally “eating” flesh.
Her wound has yet to be closed, but she is hopeful she will undergo the final surgery in the coming weeks.
McIntosh will spend up to six weeks in the hospital and she needs to stay off her feet for at least four months, doctors estimated.
A GoFundMe campaign launched to help cover McIntosh’s expenses has raised AU$8,790 ($6,475) out of its AU$10,000 ($7,365) goal, as of press time.
“Brenna has made so many people smile both in-person & through social media, so let’s give her a reason to smile,” Vanderven said.