DIETRICH, Idaho • After a terrifying encounter with flesh-eating bacteria, eighth-grader Slade Dill is home safe and sound.
Slade was playing tag at school Sept. 18 when he fell and cut his knee.
“It was no big deal. We just cleaned it up,” said his father, Wayne Dill, a teacher and basketball coach at Dietrich School.
But by Sept. 20 it had started to swell, and by Sept. 22, the swelling had spread and pain had set in.
“My wife Dixie took him to the hospital in Gooding, and they gave him antibiotics,” Dill said. Doctors there advised Dixie — who is also a coach at Dietrich — to take Slade to St. Luke’s Magic Valley, where he stayed two days.
The infection continued to worry doctors at St. Luke’s. On Sept. 24, Dr. Mark Wright ordered a CT scan and found infection and fluid in Slade’s abdomen and chest. He was flown by air ambulance to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, and emergency surgeries began as soon as he landed.
Doctors in Salt Lake diagnosed Slade with Necrotizing Fasciitis — flesh-eating bacteria.
Slade had emergency surgery at midnight and four more surgeries in the few days after.
The doctors in Salt Lake are calling Slade’s recovery a miracle.
Normally, surgeons would have taken Slade’s leg to stop the disease, but the doctors didn’t amputate because they didn’t expect him to live, said Dixie.
Twin Falls dermatologist Chris Scholes — who did not see or treat Slade — said he has seen the condition only twice in his career.
“The disease is easy to misdiagnose. It may start with a red spot on the skin,” Scholes said.
“The infection goes deeper beneath the skin and can move relatively quickly and get serious fast.”
The infection invades flat layers of a membrane known as the fascia, connective bands of tissue that surround muscles, nerves, fat and blood vessels. Rapid surgical removal of dead tissue – in addition to antibiotics – is critical to stopping the infection, he said.
The disease is rare and usually strikes people with weakened immune systems, Scholes said.
But Slade is a healthy, active young man — and that is probably what saved him, said Slade’s mother.
Wells Fargo Bank has set up an account to benefit the Dill family.
Slade came home Monday. He’ll be taking antibiotics every day, and he’ll get his stitches out in two or three weeks.
“Whatever they say, we are going to do it and be thankful,” Dixie said.