Melissa "Lisa" Branham

My name is Teresa Burgess. I am writing this for my sister Melissa "Lisa" Branham. She just turned 44 on March 21, 2006, and has been in the Huntsville Hospital S.T.I.C.U Huntsville, Alabama with this disease since March 4, 2006. She was going for steroid shots in her back a few days before she got necrotizing fasciitis which I don't know if that has anything to do with her getting NF or not. She had burned her thumb on the stove and she popped the blister. Two or three days went by and she was very sick with a fever, rash and flu like symptoms. her hand and arm was hurting very bad. Her husband, Gaylon, tried to take her to the hospital and she said she was too sick and weak to sit and wait to see the doctor. I went to check on her on March 4, 2006, and what I saw scared me. Her thumb she burned looked black like the skin was gonna fall off, her arm was swollen and her lips had turned blue. I said there is something bad wrong, so I told her I was calling an ambulance and she had to go. Her blood pressure was only around 60/40 when they arrived, which kept falling. When she got to the hospital luckily Dr. Driskell at Marshall Medical Center North in Alabama found out she had NF from that burn on her thumb. They flew her to Huntsville and in less than an hour the disease had eaten from her wrist to her elbow so they had to take her right arm off up above the elbow. She had to be given blood, all together about 25 pints, they didn't know where the blood was going, unless her insides were as raw as her outside and possibly a vessel had burst. They kept saying at first she wouldn't live thru the night. Her kidneys and liver had shut down and they had her on life support. They had to drain fluid off her lungs then she got pneumonia. They had to give her some kind of drug to slow the blood circulation down to her other limbs so they could keep blood going to her heart and brain. Her blood pressure was almost nothing. She swelled so bad that her skin started to burst open from the fluids she was retaining. Then she developed huge water blisters all over and some about the size of a football. When they burst it left raw meat all over and they are going to do extensive skin grafts. They finally got her swelling down by using dialysis. They had her on a feeding tube but now have taken her off life support and the feeding tube and the dialysis. Her organs are functioning now. Her left hand is black and they say they are gonna have to take it off and take off both her feet probably up to the knee or above. her hand and feet are hard and she can't move them it's like a mummy. This is due to the lack of circulation during this whole ordeal. Her surgery is scheduled for Thursday April 20, 2006. They were putting her in a hyperbaric chamber, which helped a little. She still has a long road ahead. I have been doing research trying to find out what causes this. I am gonna have to start taking the shots in my back and neck for herniated and bulging discs and I am scared to death that I will get this. The doctor said that my sister popping that blister is what caused hers that it didn't have anything to do with her getting those steroid shots. I just wanted to email her story and get everyone to pray for her she needs it desperately right now. It is an awful thing and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. Although right now Lisa is in good spirits and knows what they are about to do. I am thankful for that, I was afraid she would feel differently about it. I will be praying for the one's who have suffered with this and for the families of the one's who didn't survive. I had never heard of it until Lisa got it. We almost lost her several times, the doctors gave up on her the first couple days and said they had done all they could that whatever happened now was God's work not their's. She's my best friend. She has been through more than I could possibly type on here. The nurse said she has been working there a long time and Lisa is the sickest person she has ever seen. P.S. If anyone would like to help Lisa and her husband with the hospital bills and her prosthetics she'll need you can mail them to our parents address and we will see they get it. There has been a fund set up for her at any Bancorp South Bank. Any donations we receive will go into her fund. She is in the Huntsville Hospital in Huntsville Alabama their phone number is 1-256-265-1000. Melissa or Gaylon Branham c/o of Teresa Burgess and Roy and Nell Burgess (parents) 305 Oak Grove Road, Albertville, Alabama 35951 UPDATE April 21, 2006: Lisa had her surgery on April 20, 2006. It took about an hour. The prosthetic company was in surgery with her helping the surgeons to amputate in the best places for her to be able to use her prosthetics better. They took her left hand right above the wrist and both feet between the ankle and the knee. She did very well during and after surgery but was in a great deal of pain. They even took her right back to her room after about 45 minutes in recovery. She shed a few tears as we started to leave from the pain and her loss, she looked up at me and said "I don't have any arms or legs now". I told her it would be ok soon that she would have her prosthetics and would be able to do things again not to worry just rest and get well so she could come home. This is the last update I have as of April 21, 2006, at 8 P.M. I will post further updates as they come. Thanks for all the people who emailed her before her surgery and thanks for all the prayers. She also told me she would love to talk to people who have survived this so please if anyone would like to email her with your story or just words of encouragement please do so and I will print it out and take it to her I know that would help her a lot. UPDATE May 2, 2006: Lisa is coming home from the hospital. She had to have all her limbs cut off and is going to have to have a lot of special equipment. She is getting ready to get her prosthetic arms and legs but we haven't collected enough money yet. Please send this to everyone you know and if everyone would donate a little all together it would be alot. The bank is Bancorp South 7100 U.S. Hwy 431 Albertville, AL 35951 phone 256-891-1280 the fund is listed under Nell Burgess (our mom) and Melissa Branham (my sister who is suffering). Or if you want to send it to her at 305 Oak Grove Rd, Albertville, AL 35951 that would be okay too, but we had rather you send it to the bank for deposit. Thank you so much for all your prayers and everything but we have to work harder for donations it is very urgent. UPDATE June 16, 2006: Melissa Branham is doing really well. She is very determined to get well and get her arms and legs and walk. They are still getting donations and Blue Cross Blue Shield is getting them a handicapped equipped van. Also we have a good shot at getting them a handicap house built. Our younger brother, Greg Burgess, age 34, died in his sleep May 19th. That hit us all hard. I don't know why our family has gone through so much lately. UPDATE August 29, 2007: I am emailing for my sister Melissa Branham. She got a flesh eating bacteria called Necrotizing Fascitis. She lost both arms and both legs and was on life support for over a month and almost died. When she came home from the hospital in May 2006, our younger 34 year old brother, Greg Burgess, died in his sleep and the following December, Melissa's son Barry, age 21, died of a massive heart attack. She has been thru so much. Her hospital bills and prosthetics are well over one million dollars. She has no home to go to now and her and husband have to stay cramped in with my mom and dad. They had a very small trailer when this happened and she can't get her wheelchair in it. They are in desperate need of donations, money, carpenters, building materials and whatever they can get right now. She has a fund set up at Bancorp South Bank 1100 hwy 431 Albertville, Alabama 35951 (ph 256-891-1280) under Nell Burgess (or mom) or Melissa Branham. or you can send it directly to her at 341 Oak Grove Rd, Albertille, Alabama 35951 (ph 256-878-7753). Please get the word around she is desperate to go home. Thank you so much and God Bless. Please note: The following photos are of Lisa however the nurse had applied a white cream to the NF areas.