Stephenie Rodriguez, an Australian socialite, has detailed how she underwent 36 surgeries and had both feet amputated after catching cerebral malaria while on business in Lagos, Nigeria.
After being invited to speak at a business event for travel executives, the 52-year-old single mother traveled to Lagos in 2019.
The socialite told the Sydney Morning Herald that she was invited to take a picture shoot next to a puddle of stagnant water during the gathering. And it was there that she was bitten three times on her left ankle by a mosquito.
Ms Rodriguez began to feel weak and exhausted days after going to India, and she was sent to the hospital after struggling to eat and drink. Her cerebral Malaria was diagnosed by an infectious diseases specialist
Doctors gave her a 2% chance of survival after she was given Artesunate, a dr*g used to treat severe malaria.
In a last ditch effort to save her life doctors used vasopressor dr*gs to redirect blood flow from her limbs to her vital organs.
“It was the last trick in the bag, and they cautioned my family that if I survived, there would be collateral damage. The vasopressors robbed my feet and hands, the things furthest from my heart, of blood and like frostbite, the areas without blood and oxygen began to die,” she said.
The dr*gs caused necrosis on her feet and hands, and she saw her own toe fall off into her fingers at one point. After being transported back to Australia, doctors informed her that she would need an above-the-knee amputation as well as the amputation of numerous fingers.
“It was horrible, absolutely horrible. Completely unimaginable,’ she said.
Horrified by the thought of losing her legs, she postponed the treatment, opting instead to have repeated skin transplants and surgeries to see if her health would improve. Her remaining toes, however, had to be severed at some point.
“It’s bizarre, but I had to cut my feet off to walk again,” she said.
Ms Rodriguez, who was confined to a wheelchair and unable to stand due to excruciating discomfort, underwent major surgery to have both feet amputated and replaced with above-ankle bilateral osseointegrated implants and mechanical feet.