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Indiana girl who got flesh-eating disease in Florida ocean takes 'first steps' to recovery

Posted at 8:40 AM, Jul 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-03 15:13:15-04

INDIANAPOLIS — A 12-year-old girl who was diagnosed with flesh-eating bacteria after wading in the ocean in Florida has taken her first big "steps" toward recovery.

Kylei Parker's family started to realize something was wrong just a couple days into their vacation. When the family got back to Indiana, they took Kylei to Riley Hospital for Children where she was diagnosed with the rare, and often-deadly, disease.

READ | Mother shares warning after girl gets flesh-eating bacteria in ocean

Now, just a couple of weeks after that initial diagnosis, Kylei has taken her first steps — both literal and figuratively — toward recovery.

Indiana University Health is helping to share Kylei's story and recovery.

"Kylei has really come a long way, she's doing great," said Dr. James Wood, infection prevention doctor at Riley Children's Health. "She's made very huge steps — actually very literal steps. Just last week she started taking steps on her own, without her walker or wheelchair. She's come a long way in such a very short time. To see her determination, her drive to get better, it's been emotional."

Wood said Kylei's recovery has been impressive and fast. Many patients don't ever recover, let alone as quickly as she's been able to begin the process.

"She's rocked this recovery thing so far," Kylei's mother, Michelle said. "We weren't expecting her to be able to walk for a few months, we haven't even started therapy yet and she's already been working on it at home and she's made huge progress at home. She has determination, she's a go-getter for sure."

Michelle shared her daughter's story last month in the hopes that it would help prevent another family from having to go through the same situation they did, by making them aware of the disease and how quickly it works.

"We're just trying to help raise awareness because it has been such a huge impact. It can be life or death... we're just trying to help raise awareness of that," Michelle said. "Hopefully we can help prevent other families from going through what we've had to go through over a simple nick on the toe while trying to enjoy vacation."

She says taking the proper precautions and being more educated on the disease and how it can turn into something much bigger and scarier is very important and can mean the difference between life and death.

"We're very fortunate. Some of the stories that have been shared with us have just been horrific."

Wood says Kylei has moved past her antibiotic and medical treatments and will be able to focus on her physical therapy from here on out.