Many of you already know this story, my daughter and grandson nearly died 2 years ago. Now Animal Planet is featuring their story along with that of our troops that have been victimized by Acinetobacter Baumannii, more commonly known as Iraq Bacteria.
Hundreds of injured soldiers returning from the Middle East bring back incredibly powerful mutant bacteria. Also, the CDC is flooded with reports of severe illness in children across the country – an invisible assassin is on nationwide killing spree.
Animal Planet – Monday, September 12 · 8:00pm Eastern – 7:00pm Central
A RARE SURVIVOR
This is the story of my daughter, Lisa Witzell Mallet, her husband Cody, and my 2 wonderful grandsons, Keith and Carson.
Local woman one of 2 to live after getting deadly infection
There was a time last year when the lining of Lisa Mallet’s lungs were as thin as a sheet of Bible paper and every cough would rip right through them. That was in August 2009, months before she would know that she would become one of few known survivors of “Iraqibacter.”
On Aug. 17, 2009, Mallet, then 21, said she was at home with her 5-year-old son Keith and felt like she had a fever. She was 26 weeks pregnant and her husband, Cody Mallet, an Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy, was on patrol.
“At 2 a.m. I got a phone call that something was wrong,” Cody Mallet said. “We stayed in the hospital two nights before they diagnosed her with pneumonia. On that third day she told us she was tired of breathing and we knew this was bad.”
Lisa Mallet, right, enjoys Christmas with her family this year after surviving a rare bacterial infection a year ago. Mallet is one of only two documented survivors of the deadly infection nicknamed Iraqibacter.
Day four an emergency C-Section was scheduled to take baby Carson who weighed only 3 pounds at the time of his birth. He was transferred to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Lafayette while his mother lay in a hospital bed unaware she gave birth to her second son.
A team of doctors, seeing that the pneumonia was not improving, changed their diagnosis to pulmonary edema and decided to put her into a paralytic coma so her body could rest and rebuild itself.
“She only got worse,” Cody Mallet said.
A third diagnosis, this time acute respiratory distress syndrome, and Lisa continued to decline — fast.
She was transferred to Lafayette General Medical Center, a trip that took only nine minutes but doctors were not confident she would survive the trip.
She was supposed to be in her deepest comatose state but she remembers, she said.
“I remember they (her family) were all yelling at me ‘You’re not alone’,” Lisa Mallet said. “They wanted someone at the hospital when I left and someone in Lafayette when I got there so I knew I wasn’t alone.”
In Lafayette, the diagnosis process started all over again, Cody Mallet said. The family was told she had a less than 2 percent chance of surviving.
Her lungs collapsed in Lafayette and doctors decided she must have H1N1. She was quarantined.
With a wife quarantined at one hospital and a preemie baby in NICU across town, Cody Mallet was running on empty. He would come home to Coteau to shower, change clothes and go to work. When he got off of work, it was back to Lafayette, first to see baby Carson then to see his wife. He did this every day for more than 45 days. He had to work, he said, to pay the bills. He said the Sheriff’s Office was gracious and lenient during this time, understanding when he was late or had to miss a shift. His checks were never short though, he said.
Cody Mallet didn’t get to hold baby Carson until he was two months old, he said.
After being diagnosed with H1N1, Lisa Mallet developed ventilated assisted pneumonia, which stuck with her as her lungs collapsed again.
“It was a roller coaster,” Cody Mallet said. “The doc called us in and told us she contracted a very serious bacterial infection called acinetobacter bumanii nicknamed “Iraqibacter” because it is believed to come from the soil in Iraq and brought to the states on the boots of the troops returning from war.”
Many people are believed to carry the bacteria, doctors said, but only immuno-compromised people fall victim to its debilitating effects.
“This thing was super bad and not very popular,” Cody Mallet said. “It’s multi drug-resistant and the few drugs that can be used are so toxic that they could kill you.”
Doctors at Women’s and Children’s Hospital, familiar with what baby Carson’s mom was going through, called him the “miracle baby.”
After his premature birth he was on a ventilator for only six hours before he began breathing on his own.
“They didn’t understand how he didn’t show signs of the infection,” Cody Mallet said.
Lisa Mallet did not respond to the first three antibiotics doctors used. The fourth, which doctors could only administer for five days because of its lethal nature, seemed to work.
“One day she would be better, than the next she’d be worse until finally she just kept getting better,” Cody Mallet said.
On Sept. 20, 2009, Lisa Mallet awoke for the first time since the ordeal began.
“How long have I been asleep,” she said she asked. “Where is my baby?”
Her husband told her she had been sleeping for 48 days, and she cried.
From the time baby Carson was born, Cody Mallet started taking pictures for his wife, he said.
“I didn’t want her to miss a single moment,” he said.
After coming out of the coma, her vision was impaired, but it improved slowly as she practiced focusing on poster-sized reprints Cody Mallet plastered all over her hospital room of Carson, Keith and other family members.
As all of this was happening, it was Keith’s first football season, the couple said. A poster-sized photograph of the boy in his teal-colored football jersey was what Lisa Mallet focused on every day until it finally became more clear.
She started physical therapy and would beg the doctors to do double the rehabilitation exercises.
“I realized I missed so much time with my kids. It was devastating,” Lisa Mallet said.
Since she was released from the hospital Oct. 9, 2009, doctors aren’t sure what made the difference, Cody Mallet said, how Lisa Mallet survived. The couple went straight to Women’s and Children’s where Lisa Mallet held baby Carson, by then three months old and 5 pounds 6 ounces, for the first time.
The ordeal has strengthened the couple’s already strong faith, they said.
“For seasoned doctors to shake their heads and say I’m the golden child or their miracle patient, it’s God, that’s all it is,” Lisa Mallet said.
She still sees a pulmonologist and cardiologist every month and has limited lung capacity. She has attached to her hip a monitor keeping track of her vitals. And, this Christmas she is thankful.
“To have another Christmas with my kids means everything,” she said. “This is my favorite time of year and it can all change so quickly. This year, we’re trying to make up for lost time.”
The couple is thankful, they said, for family, friends and coworkers who supported them throughout their nightmare and for now, Lisa Mallet is focused on her second chance at life.
“Right now, I just don’t want to miss any more time with my kids,” she said. “Our lives could change tomorrow. I don’t want any of them to ever doubt that they are the reason I fought so hard.”
Full Story Here:
A RARE SURVIVOR
We were truly a family in crisis, but I have to tell you, Lisa and Cody are 2 of the strongest, and most determined young people I have ever known or heard of. I am so proud of them, and my wonderful grandsons.
Keith has adjusted well now, and knows that his Mommy almost died. Carson is teething and is into everything now. He is so precious.
I fully believe that the decision made by my Son-in-Law, Cody, is the reason Lisa is with us today. Cody was forced to take a stand and make the decision to move Lisa to a major medical center. Had she remained in the little hospital in New Iberia, it is pretty much assumed that hospital is where she would have died.
Some of you knew of this story, some of my readers had no idea, but to ALL of you, thank you for the prayers, faith and love, it is much appreciated and obviously, we, the entire family, are grateful for each and every one of you.
Cody, Keith and Lisa holding Carson
The gift of LOVE!