Colorado doctors are trying to save a man with an obscure flesh-eating infection

Delta man flown to Denver for treatment

DENVER - Doctors are trying to save the life of a Delta County man who is suffering from an obscure and fast-acting, flesh- and muscle-eating infection.

Family members say Rick Graham started suffering flu-like symptoms Saturday and was admitted to Delta County Memorial Hospital.

"His arm was sore," said Graham's daughter, Tabatha Lightner. "Doctors did an MRI and took x-rays.  They found a spot, but didn't know what it was."

Lightner said doctors in Delta administered antibiotics, "but his body wouldn't take them."

"They transferred him to Grand Junction," she said. "Doctors there found an infection that started eating his muscles and flesh on the inside."

She said doctors started cutting out the infected tissue.

"He was in surgery for five hours," Lightner told 7NEWS. "He died on the table once. They brought him back and they continued the surgery because the infection was eating everything so fast."

When asked what caused the infection, Lightner replied, "They said it could have been a spider bite."

She said it's also possible that he contracted the infection from a dirt bike accident which happened one month ago.

"They didn't remove all the wood from his arm," she said. "So, it could have been that too."

From Grand Junction, Graham was flown to University of Colorado Hospital where a spokesman said he is in critical condition.

Lightner said Doctors told the family that Graham has a ten percent chance of survival.

"They've amputated his right arm and may have to amputate both feet," she said.

Lightner said the most difficult part of the ordeal is not knowing.

"We really don't know what to make of it," she said. "You're sitting there and all you want to hear is an answer. Why is this happening? What caused it?"

She said she doesn't think it was a spider bite or the accident.

"His left arm was the one injured, but they had to amputate his right arm," she said. "I don't know where he would get that kind of infection where it would literally eat your flesh and everything inside."

Graham is the father of 8 children.

"We're trying to make it to Denver so we can be there with Dad," she said. "But not all of us can afford to."

She said family members hope and pray that doctors at University of Colorado Hospital can save Graham's life.


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