From Central Carolina Hospital

When Tammy Russ cut her thumb removing an ingrown hangnail, little did she know that she would nearly lose her life 24 hours later from a rare flesh-eating bacteria. But thanks to an astute diagnosis, emergency surgery and lifesaving intensive care at Central Carolina Hospital, she is alive and well today.

Tammy’s thumb began swelling over a 12-hour period on June 7, and she became weak and could not stand up, said her daughter, Amber McDaniel. An urgent care center could not diagnose the problem.

Soon an ambulance was called to take her to the hospital. And there she encountered an ER doctor, Dr. Joy Hallmark, who had recently written a 12-page paper on the condition, called necrotizing fasciitis. She immediately identified it.

Dr. Richard Slusher, orthopedic surgeon, performed emergency surgery, with assistance from Dr. Steven Jurisich of Central Carolina General Surgery. Tammy’s thumb had to be amputated, and the surrounding necrotized tissue was removed. She spent the next five days in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit.

Kevin Russ and his wife, Tammy, at their home in Sanford

“There was a 24-hour window, and we could have lost her,” Amber said, her voice trembling in tears.

Tammy’s necrotizing fasciitis may have developed from group A Strep bacteria. There are only 700 to 1,200 such cases each year in the United States. Up to one in three people die from the infection.

“Central Carolina Hospital provides lifesaving care, and they saved my momma,” Amber said through her tears.

Tammy’s husband, Kevin, was equally grateful when recalling the care his wife and family received.

“I’d really like to emphasize the quality of the care we received there,” he said. “The staff ran into a textbook worst-case scenario that not many people know how to care for. Those people knocked it out of the park,” he said. “No mistakes, everyone worked as fast as humanly possible. Those folks came through above and beyond. My wife would not be here living and breathing, if they were not as good as they are at what they do. I have nothing but praise for Central Carolina Hospital and their ability to react in a life-and-death situation. And the ICU, they really need a citation. The ICU team was amazing. They were not going to lose her. I knew in my heart that they would keep her alive. They were great.”