Moultrie Observer

Local News

June 18, 2013

Local man fights deadly bacteria

Hobgood lost arm 4 hours after infection

MOULTRIE — A Colquitt County woman is lamenting her return to her hometown, a move that she said cost her son his arm.

Donna and Michael Hobgood both grew up in Moultrie, but they moved to Florida 25 years ago. They recently moved back to be closer to their families.

Now their 23-year-old son, Michael Hobgood II, is hospitalized in “fair/stable condition,” according to a Colquitt Regional spokeswoman. His right arm has been amputated at the elbow to stop the progression of necrotizing fasciitis — commonly called the flesh-eating bacteria.

While Michael remains hospitalized, Donna Hobgood has asked people to respect the family’s privacy. She strongly discouraged visitors or phone calls.

Donna Hobgood said her son was shooting guns with some friends June 7 at a pond in Hartsfield. Somehow, the lever on the gun cut his hand when the gun recoiled. It wasn’t a serious injury at all — “just a little tear, like,” she said.

That evening, the hand had swollen enough he went to the emergency room. Donna Hobgood said the physiician said Michael had torn the ligaments in his hand, which caused the swelling. He was fitted with a splint or brace and sent home.

A few hours later, Michael was back at the emergency room because the swelling had gotten much worse and had progressed up his arm. The necrotizing fasciitis was diagnosed at that time and the arm was amputated to prevent further spread.

“In four hours it was all the way up to here,” she said, pointing to her elbow. “What if he had slept through the night? He’d have died.”

Necrotizing fasciitis is caused by several kinds of bacteria, according to WebMD. Some of these bacteria also cause infections such as strep throat and impetigo. Usually the infections caused by these bacteria are mild, but in rare cases they can cause a more dangerous infection.

About 1 in 4 people who get necrotizing fasciitis die, the website said.

The CRMC spokeswoman said hospital officials do not believe this is the first incident of necrotizing fasciitis the hospital has treated — but it is so rare none of them can remember seeing it before.

The infection gained notoriety last year when Snellville, Ga., student Aimee Copeland lost both hands, her leg and her right foot to it. Her fight for life was covered by national news media.

Michael Hobgood II was about to start a new job as a sheet metal mechanic when the accident occurred, his mother said. He had done similar work for years in Florida, installing ducts in buildings.

“He was running his own crew by the time he was 21,” she said.

Now, he’s without income or health insurance, and the family is seeking help from the community. An account has been set up at Southwest Georgia Bank in his name, and the family has placed collection jars in businesses around the area.

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