by: Gary Horcher Updated:
MONROE, Wash. - A Monroe boy is being called a medical miracle after a flesh-eating disease that started with a simple cut nearly took his leg, and his life.
The Center for Disease Control said there's about 800 cases of flesh-eating bacteria a year nationwide, but it kills one in five.
But 13-year-old Trey Lauren was determined to beat it and walk out of the hospital on his own power.
Trey was sprawled across his bed; his right leg looks mummified in gauze and bandages, his knee caged-in by a metal brace. And yet, Trey says he's never been so happy.
“I'm so excited I'm home,” he said. “I don't think I really realize I'm home yet."
Trey had just been released from Children’s Hospital, hours after a harrowing 21-day stint, which involved 13 surgeries to strip the flesh-eating bacteria, which was attacking his leg, and growing explosively toward his hips.
The infection took root when Trey cut his leg on a nail, and got six stitches in a nearby clinic. Trey developed a fever. Then his leg began to swell, as if it was being filled with air.
“Five hours later, it was huge, and we knew something was wrong," he recalled.
Doctors gave Trey an MRI and could see the bacteria eating him alive. He heard a doctor say, "Twelve hours to losing your leg; two days to losing your life."
“And I was awake during that,” said Trey. "That just freaked me out."
Trey’s parents were told he was being raced into surgery immediately.
“It was at that point that we realized that wow, this is serious stuff," said Mark Lauren, Trey’s father. “We had no idea that would be the first of 13 operations.”
Trey's mom and dad stayed at his side, while doctors waged war on Trey's infection before it killed him. Seahawks Quarterback Russell Wilson visited him, encouraging him to never lose his faith.
He didn’t. His father was the first to notice.
“I was kissing him goodnight and I whispered in his ear ‘I love you, and keep fighting." Trey responded with inspiring words of his own. “I had to tell my dad and my mom ‘It’s ok. I got this.”
“It was like someone shot me with adrenaline, said Mark. “It was like, alright, let's do this!"
While Trey battled the bacteria eating through his leg, a Facebook page entitled “Pray for Trey” received well-wishes from around the world. His community in Monroe began fundraising to help his family pay for more than a dozen staggeringly expensive operations.
Trey's fighting spirit and the surgeon's skill combined to beat the bacteria. Now, he's got months of physical therapy and a new goal.
"My goal is to be playing baseball by the end of the year," he said. Trey plays for the Legends, a Snohomish County select team.
But for now, playing video games with his best buddies on his own bed has never been more fun.
“After everything I've been through, I'm back in my own room, back relaxing in my own bed,” he said. “It's just awesome."