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Aggressive bacterial infection left one Oklahoman fighting for his life

EDMOND, Okla. – A few months ago, behind the scenes, one of our newsroom family members was quietly fighting a life-or-death battle at home.

Ali Meyer’s husband, Zack, spent almost two weeks in the hospital fighting for his life.

It all started on a Sunday afternoon in early April.

Zack dug a hole in the front yard, and some dirt from the hole apparently got into a minor scratch on his elbow.

“I noticed it, and thought nothing of it.” said Zack. “I knew in my head. I had that feeling that something must be wrong. I had that feeling like I should go to the ER.”

48 hours from the first onset of an unusual symptom, and Zack was on deaths’ door.

He had an aggressive, life-threatening bacterial infection; Group A Strep.

A team of infectious disease doctors and surgeons decided surgery was Zack’s best option for survival.

They cut open his chest and tried to remove as much infection as they could, but it had already spread to his bloodstream. Zack was in septic shock.

“I just kept hearing the word. I remember hearing over and over again. This isn’t good. This isn’t good.” Zack said.

Dr. Joseph Buendia performed Zack’s emergency surgery at Mercy Hospital.

“For Zack it was a small cut on his arm that allowed this Group A Strep infection to enter into his body. He was just working in his yard. That happens every day to people.” Buendia said. “But if that infection gets into your blood, and it’s the right type of bacteria, it can be life-threatening. You can die from it.”

According to intensive care doctors in the emergency room, Zack’s chances of survival with this kind of infection were about 50/50.

Zack spent almost two full weeks in the hospital recovering from the bacterial infection and pneumonia.

The surgeon left Zack’s surgical wound open, attaching a vacuum to his chest to help drain the infection and seal up the wound.

Three months later, Zack’s body has healed almost completely.

“We wish we’d called the doctor sooner, or gone to the ER sooner. That was the lesson we learned.” said Ali. “When you’ve got such a busy, active family, and I think a lot of families can relate to this, you have a tendency to think you can weather any illness. We definitely underestimated the power of aggressive bacterial infections.”

Life doesn’t have any do-overs. So, we’re thankful that Zack made it through, and that he’s back home and doing well. We feel super lucky to be here together to share our story.