An Australian socialite, Stephenie Rodriguez, has narrated how she underwent 36 surgeries and had both feet amputated after contracting cerebral malaria during a business trip to Lagos, Nigeria.
The 52-year-old single mom visited Lagos in 2019 after being invited to speak at a business gathering for travel executives.
Speaking with the Sydney Morning Herald, she said during the gathering, she was asked to take a photo shoot next to a pool of stagnant water. And it was there that she got bitten three times by a mosquito on her left ankle.
Days later after flying to India, Ms Rodriguez began to feel tired and exhausted – she was later rushed to hospital after str*ggling to eat and drink. An infectious diseases specialist confirmed she had cerebral Malaria.
Doctors gave her a two per cent chance of survival after Artesunate – a drug used to treat severe malaria – sent her into septic shock and organ failure. In a last ditch effort to save her life doctors used vasopressor drugs to redirect blood flow from her limbs to her vital organs.
“It was the last trick in the bag, and they cautioned my family that if I survived, there would be collateral damage. The vasopressors robbed my feet and hands, the things furthest from my heart, of blood and like frostbite, the areas without blood and oxygen began to die,” she said.
The drugs caused her feet and hands to blacken from necrosis and at one point she witnessed her own toe fall off into her hand. After being airlifted back to Australia, doctor’s advised she would have to undergo an above the knee amputation along with several fingers.
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