Teacher defies odds to beat killer bug

A TEACHER who was given just a 10% chance of surviving after contracting a flesh eating bug has spoken of the terrifying ordeal.

John Howard

A TEACHER who was given just a 10% chance of surviving after contracting a flesh eating bug has spoken of the terrifying ordeal.

Lil Goodrum, 27, from Bond Street, Stowmarket, ended up in a coma for six weeks after the rare infection caused her organs to fail.

Today the teacher, who teaches music at Holywells High School, Ipswich, is making a steady recovery at her parents home although she has been told it could take her two years to return to full health.

Miss Goodrum's ordeal first started when she suffered an asthma attack on her first day at work.

She was admitted to the West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds during April last year, following two trips to the doctor in a week with asthma problems.

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It was then she was finally diagnosed with Staphylococcus panton valentine leucocidin (PVL), which caused a form of pneumonia and was literally eating away at her flesh.

Miss Goodrum said: “It was basically eating away at my lungs.

“They didn't hold out much hope of my survival, but they luckily heard of a new treatment in Leicester, called ECMO. They only have four beds in the UK for adult treatment and fortunately they had one available for me.

“I was rushed up to Leicester in a specialist ambulance, but they weren't sure if I'd make the journey. I spent about six weeks receiving treatment, which involved removing the blood from my body via the main artery in my neck and running it through a machine that cleaned, oxygenated and reheated my blood before putting it back in my body. I also had liver and kidney failure.

“By early June I was transferred to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital and was in a high dependency unit on a ventilator and was there until September, when I was transferred to the Colman hospital, in Norwich, for rehabilitation. They got me walking again and generally up and about.

“Six months to the day I was released from hospital for a visit home and a week later I was released permanently.”

Miss Goodrum, a former Debenham High School pupil, was seen by world renowned specialists at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester which is the only facility in the UK that deals with the condition in adults.

She was kept in a drug induced coma for six weeks as staff battled to save her. When she came round her parents, who had been staying in the city to be near their daughter, asked her to blink in response to questions so they could communicate until her condition improved and she regained her voice.

At one point the Cardiff University graduate, who studied for a BA (Hons) in music, was on a cocktail of about 15 different drugs, needed surgery on her lungs, and today she still walks on crutches.

She has been told it will take her two years to recover after contracting the condition by chance, but is determined to return to work by September as she undergoes occupational therapy at the Icanho brain rehabilitation centre in Stowmarket.

Her parents Jean and Martin Goodrum, both in their 50s from Little Stonham, are thrilled to have her home recuperating. Mrs Goodrum, a teaching assistant at Wetheringsett Primary School, said her church had been fantastic and had been praying for her daughter.

She said: “The doctors have been astounded by her recovery. We feel there has been divine intervention and God's hand has touched our daughter.

“We are eternally grateful to the West Suffolk Hospital who saved her life, recognising what this was so she could be quickly diagnosed. And we cannot thank Leicester staff enough. People were dying around us at the hospital and yet she has made it.”

A spokeswoman for the Glenfield Hospital in Leicester said: “We're delighted that Elizabeth is recovering well. She came to us suffering from an unusual variation of a common bug called Staphylococcus panton valentine leucocidin (PVL), which can destroy lung tissue.

“By oxygenating her blood outside her body using an ECMO (Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation) machine we were able to support her lungs whilst they healed.”

Miss Goodrum's father, a BT technician working at Martlesham Heath, said it was wonderful to have her home after she had been so desperately ill.

His daughter is now hoping to raise funds to thank the hospitals who saved her life and is already tiring of daytime television, dreaming of getting back to work as soon as she can.