Georgia Woman's 'Long Road to Recovery' From Flesh-Eating Bacteria

Doctors said she had a 20 percent chance of living when she first checked in.

June 21, 2015, 3:12 PM

— -- A Newnan, Georgia, woman is now on a "long road to recovery" after being told she had a 20 percent chance of survival from contracting flesh-eating bacteria that spread to her lungs and left her in "excruciating pain," her husband said.

Kristie Vessell, 43, was diagnosed earlier in May with necrotizing fasciitis, which kills tissue as it spreads, according to Select Specialty Hospital CEO Matthew Pearson. Vessell, whose infection started in her leg, is at Select Specialty Hospital, though she previously transferred from a partner hospital.

In May, Vessell was put into an induced coma at the previous hospital to relieve pain and help her breathe after emergency surgery. The procedure was performed to see what was wrong with her leg because she could barely walk and her temperature skyrocketed to 106 degrees, husband Jack Vessell said.

"We waited until the last minute because we didn't know what was wrong," Vessell, 46, told ABC News.

Doctors said they believe Kristie Vessell may have contracted the infection from a minor open sore on her leg, her husband said.

"We haven't been on a vacation since New Year's this year, we haven't gone fishing or swimming, so we're not sure where she would've gotten it," Vessell said. "It's been difficult to see her go from being able to walk and doing things fine to now being stuck in the hospital all day."

But she is doing well, Vessell said, adding she's breathing on her own now and that she will soon receive physical and occupational therapy to help her walk again.

His wife will be staying at the hospital for the next few months until she's deemed fit enough to go home, Vessell said. But even then, doctors say it may be another year or two before she's fully "back to normal," he added.

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