Staph infection sends McAlester teen to the hospital for 37 days

Wednesday, January 18th 2006, 10:38 am
By: News On 6

If your child plays sports, you probably worry about them getting injured, but the biggest threat could be something you can't even see.

A McAlester teenager was nearly killed by a staph infection he might have gotten at basketball camp.

News on 6 reporter Steve Berg tells how it happened and how you can avoid it.

Caleb Carney can sink a 20-footer with ease, but really, it's amazing that he's just walking. “He went from playing basketball on a Friday to the following Thursday being on life support." His mom Susanne Carney couldn't believe how fast it spread. Caleb bruised his hip at basketball camp this past summer, which apparently opened the way for an infection from his toe. Caleb Carney: "I just thought it was a bad hip bruise or maybe a fracture, I didn't think it was anything that bad."

Susanne Carney: "His hip just got to where you couldn't even touch it, not even water could touch it." The abscess in his hip got so bad he couldn't walk and the infection spread to his lungs. He was flown by helicopter to St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa. "They told me they were putting him on life support and didn't know if he would make it. He was in renal failure, his kidneys were shutting down. His liver was shutting down. Everything was shutting down on him."

Caleb had a drug-resistant staph infection, what the doctors call MRSA, which is becoming more common. Susanne Carney: "They told me at St. Francis they used to see this once every two years and now they're seeing it one or two times a month."

The problem with sports is that athletes can easily become injured and then come in contact with each other out of the court or with germs here in the locker room. "They said not to share towels because at the camp, I’m sure there were towels lying around and they shared a public shower with I don't know how many kids were at the camp."

After 3 surgeries and 37 days in the hospital, the nightmare for Susanne and Caleb is over, and she hopes other parents don't have to go through what she did.

Doctors say don't share towels, soap, razors, or similar items, including towels on sidelines. Wash your hands before touching cuts and scrapes and athletes should shower as soon as they're done with a game.