By Mollie Mansfield
A little boy who had his leg amputated after contracting a flesh eating disease has swam for the first time since his deadly illness.
Jonathin Perez beat necrotizing fasciitis after nearly dying last year, but became terrified of swimming after knowing that the deadly bug is often contracted through water.
But now, his proud parents captured the first time he ventured back into the water on camera.
After feeling nauseaus, tired and feverish in April 2018, doctors initially thought that Jonathin Perez had caught a bug at school until his mother insisted that he received blood tests in hospital.
Whilst waiting to be tested, Jonathin’s left arm and right leg started to swell and a rash started to form on the leg and his left shoulder.
Once several examinations had been done, Jonathin’s parents, Kaitlin, 31, and Evodio, 33, were given the devastating news that their little boy was dying of sepsis and flesh eating disease, necrotizing fasciitis, which had been caused by a the bacterial infection Strep A.
The five-year-old, from Indianapolis, US, then underwent six debridement surgeries to clean out the infection in his skin, including the surgery to amputate his right leg.
Now, one-year on, Jonathin is on the road-to-recovery and is adapting to life since his surgery, and has finally started to swim again – despite his initial fears due to the knowledge that necrotizing fasciitis is commonly contracted from water.
Kaitlin, a hospitality worker, said: “On April 2 2018, his school called me and said Jonathin was lethargic and had developed a fever, so I came, picked him up and took him to the doctor’s.
“They told me that it looked like just a regular bug, but after he started complaining that his legs were hurting a friend recommended I took him in for blood work – so I did.
“I immediately called to make him an appointment and when I got home from work my husband told me that Jonathin had been complaining that his arm was bothering him.
“While we were at his appointment his left arm started swelling up at a rapid rate and while we were in the ER his right leg started swelling up as well and a rash started forming on the leg and the left shoulder.
“Because of his symptoms they did blood work, a strep test, an ultrasound and an x-ray and the next day, whilst I was at work, I got a phone call from my husband telling me to come to the hospital.
“When I got there, we were taken into a consultation room and I remember telling my husband ‘I don’t want to be in this room – people always get bad news in these rooms’.
“Sure enough, three doctors came in, introduced themselves, and told us ‘Your son is very sick, probably the sickest kid in this hospital right now, and we don’t expect him to make it.'”
After being told that their little boy would die, Jonathin defied the odds to beat both necrotizing fasciitis and sepsis just days later on April 7.
However, the family were then struck with the news that their son would need surgery, and would also need to have amputations to help him recover.
Kaitlin said: “Despite his miraculous recover, his conditions had affected both his right leg and his left arm and shoulder and he had swelling all over his body
“Jonathin’s right leg suffered compartment syndrome from the knee down and it was pretty obvious to us from the increasingly darkening purplish look of it that it would not recover.
“He then had to have various debridement surgeries in order to clear the infections from his body and even had to go through plasmapheresis which got rid of the remaining infected blood platelets and filtered in donated plasma.
“A week after this all started he had his fourth debridement surgery and most of the skin on the shoulder, arm and hand had to be removed.
“Then, after being removed from an eight-day long medically induced coma, on April 27 Jonathin’s right leg was amputated in between the bones and caused him to lose the lower part of his leg.
“Finally on June 21 Jonathin was discharged from the hospital and we finally got to bring him home.”
Since his amputation, Jonathin has received a prosthetic leg and has been learning to adapt to life without his leg.
However, Jonathin reached one of his most monumental milestones earlier this month, July 4, when he finally went back into the swimming pool after battling the infections.
Kaitlin said: “While Jonathin didn’t contract his necrotizing fasciitis from a pool, he is aware that swimming pools are one of the well-known places people can pick up the bacteria that cause it.
“It breaks my heart to hear my five-year-old say ‘But Mummy, what if I have a scratch on my leg. Do you think I’ll be ok?’ because he knows first-hand what can happen.
“But after enough reassurance and encouragement, Jonathin finally got into the pool and swam for the first time in two years.
“It was great to see him enjoy himself and swim for the first time in years!”