Lowcountry man recovers from flesh-eating bacteria

By Nikki

MILLEDGEVILLE, GA (WCIV) Barry Ginn, 59, of Hilton Head Island is lucky to be alive after recently overcoming an infection known as necrotizing fasciitis that has recently made national headlines.

"I never ever knew anything like this could happen," said Ginn during a visit with close friends in Milledgeville, Georgia.

It was late February that Ginn knew something was wrong after waking up one morning not feeling well.

"I thought I had pulled my rotator cuff again," said Ginn. "My arm was boiling hot and it was swollen unbelievably."

He brushed off going to a doctor right away but his condition only got worse.

"I couldn't walk. My kidneys had failed," he said.

Ginn was eventually rushed to the hospital where he said doctors gave him the shock of a lifetime.

"They kept saying necrotizing fasciitis, and that I was dying of it and may have to amputate my arm," said Ginn.

The bacteria was quickly destroying tissue in his left arm and spreading farther down. He was rushed to MUSC in Charleston where he was only given a 20 percent chance of survival.

"I had nine operations in four days. I died a couple of times," said Ginn.

"They had given him epinephrine in his heart to bring him back," said close friend, Jay Harrington.

Harrington traveled nearly five hours from Georgia to be close to his friend who fought for his life.

"He was on a respirator and he was on what I'd call a medically induced coma," said Harrington.

Doctors at MUSC were ready to amputate at any moment.

"They had marks on my arm and that where they kept saying if it gets here, we do this. It really came down to a third opinion in the operating room," said Ginn.

Miraculously, doctors were able to stop the spread of the infectionbut had to remove his muscles in his bicep, shoulder, and chest area. Today his upper, left arm is all bone.

"It's gone. They cut it away like filleting a fish," said Ginn.

After spending nearly a month at MUSC, Ginn was released in early March and now is sharing his story with others in hopes others might learn from it.

"If your chest hurts, get to a doctor, if your head hurts get to a doctor," said Ginn.

Because Barry is unable to lift his left arm, he currently undergoes physical therapy on Hilton Head Island three to four times a week. His next checkup is scheduled for July 13 at MUSC.

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