Washington Boy Jake Finkbonner Recovers From Flesh-Eating Bacteria: Was It a Miracle of Science?

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Some Doctors Say Jake's Survival Was Outstanding Science, Not Miracle

"He was extremely fortunate to be in an outstanding hospital receiving outstanding medical treatment," said Dr. Stanford Shulman, chief of infectious diseases at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago. "Craig Rubens is an outstanding pediatric infectious disease specialist and an expert on group A strep infections. I think the fact that he was involved shows Jake really did get truly outstanding care."

Miracles are a difficult subject, said Shulman.

"We doctors don't want to take hope away from patients and families, but I would feel comfortable attributing this child's remarkable recovery to outstanding surgical and medical care."

And Dr. Marcus Zervos, chief of the department of infectious diseases at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, said that while necrotizing fasciitis is a very serious infection, it is treatable.

"It's very serious and associated with high death rates, but it is treatable and medical care and new antibiotics are able to treat patients successfully with many of these infections," said Zervos. "We don't see a recovery like this one every day, but patients who have made similar recoveries have been as sick as this."

Zervos said he does believe in miracles, and that God can work through hospitals, physicians and traditional medical care.

"But when I see something like this, I know it can be explained through the usual medical care that we give the patient through good ICU care or good antibiotics and supporting complications," continued Zervos.

Dr. Barry Farr, an expert in hospital infection control at the University of Virginia, said that an otherwise healthy child who has contracted an infection has an advantage than someone who is older and in worse health.

"An old pediatrician once humorously observed that 'kids get well so fast that it's important for a pediatrician to get treatment started before the kid gets well,'" said Farr. "His point was that young protoplasm often has an advantage when compared with old protoplasm.

"I view life itself as a miracle, but I don't usually think of a patient surviving an infection with modern medical care as being due to a miracle," Farr continued.

Zervos said the story is interesting and important to infectious disease news, and adds to the conversation of when miracles and science collide.

"We've made many successes in treatments of these diseases and preventing their spread," said Zervos. "What would really be a miracle is if we could eliminate the infection all together."

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