By Josh Saunders
A doting husband has promised his bride they ‘will dance again’ after she lost her leg to flesh-eating bacteria less than a week after their wedding.
Yelena Gorelik Cabañas, 36, from Pennsylvania, USA, was initially believed to have a torn calf muscle after suffering leg pain and feverish symptoms in the days following her nuptials.
After her agony intensified, a third visit to the ER and exploratory surgery would reveal she had necrotizing fasciitis, a serious bacterial skin infection that was killing-off all tissue and muscle.
To save her life, surgeons amputated her left leg and have performed a series of debriding surgeries to remove dead and infected skin.
Now in a stable condition, Yelena, will have to relearn to walk and having watched back the first dance from their wedding, husband Alfredo, 31, maintains they will dance again.
Alfredo, who works in pharmaceuticals, said: “Six-days after our wedding and three-days before our honeymoon, she was having an amputation. I broke down. We all did. We were so scared.
“When we knew it was flesh-eating bacteria, she turned to me looking very scared and asked if I would still love her if she lost her leg. I reassured her that of course I would.
“It was completely unexpected, I felt delusional from the lack of sleep and it was very emotional, it felt like a nightmare.
“There have been multiple surgeries and everything from irrigation with saline to the wounds to antibiotics, debriding, removing the dying tissue from where the bacteria had spread through her tissue and more.
“The day the surgeons told me they couldn’t find any more necrotised tissue, has turned our wedding into the second happiest day of my life.
“I was so overwhelmed to hear that the infection was gone, she didn’t need any more muscle removed, everything was healthy.
“I could never have imagined anything like this, the timing of everything, all in a matter of a month, we just got married and then I nearly lost her.
“The thought of trying to live life without her broke me because I realised how much I needed her, still to this day it will be happiest day of my life.
“I always tell her they didn’t take anything away from her that that I love, she still has her mind and heart, and now she is more confident, optimistic and appreciative to be alive.
“We thought it would be tough watching the video of our first dance but its brought back good memories and has been a motivation to get back to a normal life.
“We can get back to dancing and I’m sure this won’t stop her, especially the new her, she is more driven and appreciative because she has this second chance.”
Yelena first experienced leg pain a few days after the couple’s wedding.
During multiple trips to the hospital the bacteria continued to eat away at her tissue, muscles and nerves.
Alfredo said: “I remember her crawling into the room, when I saw her it scared me, she was crying.
“She told me her leg was in a lot of pain and helped carry her to the bedroom.
“I know what a muscle tear looks like, normally you would expect to see localised swelling and bruising, but nothing stood out.
“With the sudden onset of these horrible symptoms, by the time her disease was recognised she was on the verge of septic shock.”
Yelena has since undergone 18 operations, two initially to amputate and the rest to remove any area affected by the flesh-eating bacteria and skin grafts.
To reassure his wife that losing a limb had not changed their marriage vows or his feelings towards her, Alfredo continued to message her while she was unconscious in hospital.
He said: “I texted her every day she was sedated to let her know I love her, every time I saw her I would say ‘I still love you’, which I had to explain to the nurses
“After the sedation she remained intubated but conscious and desperate to find a way to talk to her, I would get her to point at a notepad of letters or to squeeze my arm.
“I told her the surgeons saved your life, but they couldn’t save your leg, she nodded and said ok, I kept telling her everything would be ok and we could get through it.”
Still in hospital, there is a long road ahead for Yelena who will need to relearn to walk but Alfredo is determined to aid her recovery in every way he can.
To help with rehabilitation, medical bills and paying for a prosthetic, a fundraising page was set-up by family members.
Alfredo said: “I do everything I can to show her I love her.
“When I’m with her I help her with many of the responsibilities of her nurses because I want her to be comfortable with me and rely on me.
“I don’t want her to feel ashamed, I want her to take as much time as she needs to recover and allow herself to become as independent as possible.
“We will get back to a normal life eventually it’s just postponed currently, and we’ll do everything we planned, go to all the places we talked about and have kids.
“We plan on renewing our vows when she is better too, she wants it to be a new start for us.
“It’s like she’s got a second chance at life and I feel the same way because those first couple of days it felt like I could have lost her, and I couldn’t imagine my life without her.”
To donate visit: www.gofundme.com/we-will-dance-again.