HUDSON, TX (KTRE) - A fishing trip for an East Texas man became life threatening over night when a type of flesh eating bacteria took over his left leg. Joe Carriere said he is thankful for the doctors who were able to save not only his leg but his life. The 71-year-old was on life support due to a bug bite.
He has been fishing at the San Bernard River for the past 50 years, but on August 17, 2012, an unfamiliar sting quickly ruined his trip.
"I had a wet sock from throwing the cast net, and I believe it was a horse fly that bit me on the ankle. Within 10 or 15 minutes my ankle started hurting and swelling," Carriere said.
Carriere said he didn't pay much attention to his ankle until the next morning when he woke up with a high fever.
"I don't remember anything until I was in the hospital in Houston, but by the time I got to Angelton I was in septic shock. This was about 15 or 16 hours after I was bitten," Carriere said.
After visiting two different hospitals he finally received treatment in Houston.
"By that time my leg from the knee down was completely black and they thought that I would maybe lose my leg," Carriere said.
The Hudson man would then spend two days on life support and the next 72 hours on dialysis.
"The doctors came in and told my family that they were doing all that they could do humanly possible and it didn't look good," Carriere said. "They didn't think I was going to make it."
He was then sent to Woodland Heights Medical Center for therapy. He spent 53 days in Lufkin as doctors gave him several different skin grafts.
"My foot doesn't have any feeling in it currently," Carriere said. "My foot is still swollen but I can wear a shoe."
He's able to walk now.
In 2005, Carriere was diagnosed with non-hodgkin's lymphoma; a type of cancer that affected his immune system. He said he had just finished chemotherapy before his fishing trip last year.
"My immune system was low and because of that the virus exploded through my body," Carriere said. "I would just like to warn everybody if you start swelling after a bite when you're in fresh water or salt water and if you have a low immune system, get to the doctor immediately because they say 50 percent of the people die in 48 hours; and I was right there but God healed me."
Carriere said it will certainly be a while before he goes on another fishing trip on the water.