CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Doctors at MUSC helped save the life of a Hilton Head man after he contracted a rare strain of bacteria earlier this year.
Barry Ginn, 59, says he found himself fighting for his life after what he thought was a rotator cuff injury. After collapsing at his Hilton Head condo in February of this year, he received the deadly diagnosis.
"That's the first time I've heard of Necrotizing Fasciitis," said Ginn.
Necrotizing Fasciitis is more commonly known as flesh-eating bacteria. According to Medicine Net, it starts as an infection in the tissues just below the skin and spreads to the surrounding layers. The toxins from the bacteria then destroy whatever tissue it comes in contact with.
The real estate agent was taken to MUSC where doctors found the bacteria in his collarbone and left shoulder.
A Georgia woman recently made national news when she contracted the bacteria after a zip line she was using broke, cutting her leg and sending her into a Georgia river. In an effort to save her life, doctors have amputated one of her legs, she may have her good foot and hands amputated as well.
That is a situation all too familiar to Ginn.
"They were telling me I was going to die," says Ginn. "They said there was amputation or death, or both. It was not a very rosy picture."
Ginn's daughter, who is 29-years-old, was asked to sign a release form to amputate his left arm. The surgeons then went to work immediately to save Ginn's life.
"I had nine surgeries in four days. Some people say I was the sickest person at MUSC for 72 hours and I had no chance of living," recalls Ginn.
Muscle and tissue was removed form Ginn's arm and collarbone, and skin from his legs were used for grafts.
"For two weeks I worried whether or not it could come back and whether my body was strong enough to fight off the infection," explains Ginn.
It was strong enough, and doctors were able to save Ginn's arm and his life.