Sydney socialite reveals how a mosquito bite got her amputated.
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 mother revealed her ordeal began after she 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 photoshoot 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 percent chance of survival after Artesunate – a dr*g 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 dr*gs 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 dr*gs 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.
Horrified by the thought she held off on the procedure, instead of undergoing multiple skin grafts and surgeries to see if her condition would improve. But eventually, she had to have her remaining toes amputated.
Wheelchair-bound and unable to stand from unbearable pain, Ms Rodriguez underwent drastic surgery to have both feet amputated and replaced with above-ankle bilateral osseointegrated implants and mechanical feet.