Charleigh Chatterton's birth to her daughter last month went smoothly with no complications. Then she went home, and six days later, her "chances of survival were slim," she said, BBC News reported.
The 27-year-old English woman told the outlet she had to be rushed back to the hospital after her April 22 birth because she suddenly developed a rash on her stomach that was "as hot to touch as a boiled kettle." At first, all the tests conducted were coming back clear, but according to BBC News, her health continued to deteriorate.
Then doctors found the issue: a flesh-eating bacteria known as necrotizing fasciitis.
According to the CDC, necrotizing fasciitis is a "rare bacterial infection that spreads quickly in the body and can cause death." The bacteria is usually contracted through some kind of break in the skin, but can also enter the body after a blunt trauma. Those most at risk of developing the infection tend to have a weakened immune system, which can happen during pregnancy and childbirth.
Chatterton's condition needed immediate surgery, ending up with two operations in two days, she told the Harwich and Manningtree Standard.
"I think I got diagnosed just in time," she told the BBC.
Chatterton was sedated for three days after doctors removed already-dead tissue, and she had to have two open wounds on her stomach for nearly a week to help her recover, she told the BBC, adding that she was in the hospital for two weeks.
"I was so frightened. I didn't think I'd ever be able to see my daughter," Chatterton told the Standard. "I'm just happy to be alive."
The CDC says it's common for necrotizing fasciitis to lead to sepsis, shock and organ failure. Even when people get treatment, the agency says that 1 in 5 people who get the bacteria die from the infection.
"I'm still finding it quite difficult psychologically, but physically I'm doing really well," Chatterton told BBC News. "I've got some big scars and some nerve damage but I feel so lucky. I'm here and that's all that matters."