An 8-yar-old boy died from a rare, flesh-eating bacteria after falling off his bicycle and suffering a minor injury.
Liam Flanagan spent January 13 riding his bicycle in the driveway of the family home in Pilot Rock, Oregon. But as he was going down the hill, the seventh-grader crashed into the dirt, falling off. The bicycle’s handlebar cut through his jeans, causing a deep cut on his thigh, PEOPLE reports.
Flanagan’s family rushed him to a nearby emergency room, where the doctors gave the boy seven stitches to close the wound, and released him. The cut was painful, but the doctors thought it was minor enough not to administer antibiotics, according to Sara Hebard, his mother.
But Hebard said her son kept complaining about a persistent ache in the area of the wound in the next few days. Hebard, 37, said, “He said it hurt, but it was his very first accident and he never had stitches before.” She initially did not think it was too big a deal. “I don’t think he was complaining any more than other kid would when they had their first stitches.”
Hebard and Scott Hinkle, Flanagan’s step-father, gave him Tylenol in an attempt to soothe his discomfort, but the pain became unbearable. The couple examined the affected thigh and saw that it had become discolored.
My husband instantly freaked. He immediately said Liam had gangrene and he needed to go to the emergency room — and straight to the emergency room we went.
The boy underwent emergency surgery to remove the infected tissue. The next morning, he was airlifted to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, where doctors conducted multiple surgeries, cutting out more tissue in order to stay ahead of the infection that was quickly spreading.
Each time they did a surgery, they kept telling us that they thought they got it,” Hebard says. “He was on three of the highest doses of antibiotics that you could get. They were pouring everything at them that they could, but they just kept cutting and hoping. Cutting and hoping.”
The doctors believed that Flanagan had caught a flesh-eating bacteria called necrotizing fasciitis when he fell and cut himself.
The boy passed away on January 21, after being transferred to Randall Children’s Hospital.
“Even though this is my worst nightmare, I want to believe his death had a reason, it had a purpose. Maybe it’s to save other’s lives, because no one deserves to go through what we went through,” Hebard said.