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Las Vegas man survives flesh-eating bacteria

Las Vegas man survives flesh-eating bacteria

By Molly Waldron. CREATED Mar 12, 2013

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- A local man is battling a rare flesh-eating bacteria he mysteriously contracted. While doctors amputate his hands and feet, his positive spirit remains intact.

"I don't think this is the end of my story. I actually think this is the beginning," says Eddie Garcia.

Eddie is a dean at Canyon Springs High School. He's now in University Medical Center's burn unit.

The disease struck Eddie suddenly one day in January.

"I was going to get some water because I was really thirsty and the next thing I know I'm on the floor," said Eddie. "It was incredible. I have no idea what was happening to me." 

Eddie's kidneys and lungs failed. He fell into a coma and received daily dialysis for more than a month. 

Doctors diagnosed Eddie with Necrotizing fasciitis. The disease usually comes from the same bacteria associated with strep throat, but in Eddie's case, doctors don't know what caused it.

To save Eddie, doctors gave him medicine to keep blood flowing to his brain and central core. But those medications kept blood from going to his extremities, having the same effect as frostbite. 

His feet and right hand were amputated, and his left hand will soon be gone too.

In the face of adversity, Eddie's doctors tell him he's an inspiration.

"You're not only an inspiration to your wife and kids, you're an inspiration to me," said Dr. Sameer Sheikh. "I've seen so many patients over the years I've been practicing and I don't think I've seen anyone that's gone through something like him and maintained such a positive attitude. It's just been an amazing amazing experience to be his physician."

Eddie knows he's lucky to be alive.

"I beat the odds," Eddie said. "20 percent chance of living and I did it. There's something that I have to do and I'm not going to miss out on this second chance." 

Eddie's wife, Antoinette, is a high school counselor. Together, they have a 10-year-old and a 6-year-old.

Now, the family must focus on moving forward with a different outlook on life.

"I had to grieve the life I thought we were living, the life I thought we were going to have," said Antoinette. "It's a new beginning, not an ending." 

Eddie's goal is to be out of the hospital and home by this summer and his doctors say it's possible.

Eddie has two more surgeries scheduled this week to have his left hand amputated and a skin graft on his right leg.

Anyone wishing to donate to help the Garcia family can do so at any Chase Bank location referencing the "Be Strong and Win Foundation."