Army recruit faces long road to recovery after contracting flesh-eating disease

news
Dez Del Barba (GoFundMe)

An Army recruit contracted a flesh-eating disease, losing his leg in the process, and his family is blaming the care he received at Fort Benning in Georgia.


Dez Del Barba, 21, enlisted in the California National Guard in late 2018. He was only six weeks into basic training at Fort Benning when he fell ill.

After a throat culture tested positive, he was rushed to a private hospital in Columbus, Ga., according to CBS Sacramento. Since mid-February, he has undergone over a dozen surgeries, one of which amputated his left leg above the knee. He was scheduled for his 16th surgery on Wednesday.

His condition is known as necrotizing fasciitis, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describe as "a rare bacterial infection that spreads quickly in the body and can cause death." Group A Streptococcus is believed to be the most common cause of the infection, according to the CDC.

Del Barba has had a significant portion of tissue and muscle removed to help combat the infection. He has even undergone a skin-graft operation.

"It's the most heartbreaking feeling a parent can feel. My son's life has been forever altered and his future as a soldier for the United States Army has been destroyed by pure negligence," Del Barba's father, Mark Del Barba, said in a statement.

Mark maintains his son received poor medical care at Fort Benning — including a delay on being alerted to the positive test.

"All they had to do was look at his lab results," Mark told News 3, "It was hand-written in [his] medical records: 'Positive for culture. Call AM Monday.'"

Del Barba will use a prosthetic leg and then begin physical therapy, CBS Sacramento reports.

Del Barba's family has established a Facebook page, Dez's Recovery Journey, where they have been keeping track of his day-to-day updates beginning Feb. 24.

The majority of the postings update the public on Del Barba's condition, even some milestones he's reached since everything unfolded.

"Another successful surgery today," says a post from February 27. "The surgery lasted about 4.5 hrs and the doctors are confident that the work done today prepares [Dez] for his road to recovery. The surgeons performed an autograft, which is taking the skin from the host and placing it on the open wound."

"Dez was moved to a wheel chair and he was brought to the rehabilitation gym," a post from March 10 reads.

"Today was another miraculous day for Dez!" a subsequent post said. "As Dez's health improves he gets little perks that go along with it. Today's reward was that Dez was able to spend about 15 minutes outside; he felt the cool breeze and just relaxed enjoying the fresh air, something he hasn't been able to do for the past month."

They posted a petition on March 17 which is intended "to help and protect soldiers like Dez and all our military service members who have been affected by military medical negligence."

In a statement, Fort Benning officials said soldiers' care was an "utmost concern.

"Sometimes the environment or high-risk training results in illness, injury, or sadly, even death," the statement continued.

———

©2019 New York Daily News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

SEE ALSO: Once Again, Army Snipers Outshot Marines At USASOC's Annual Sharpshooting Competition

CAMP PENDLETON — The military prosecution of a Coast Guardsman accused of murder began Wednesday with a preliminary hearing at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.

Seaman Ethan W. Tucker, 21, was arrested August 28 after a seven-month Coast Guard investigation into the January death of Seaman Ethan Kelch, 19, who served on the same ship as Tucker— the Kodiak, Alaska-based high endurance cutter Douglas Munro.

Read More Show Less

ANKARA (Reuters) - President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday Turkey would press on with its offensive into northeastern Syria and "crush the heads of terrorists" if a deal with Washington on the withdrawal of Kurdish fighters from the area were not fully implemented.

Erdogan agreed on Thursday in talks with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence a five-day pause in the offensive to allow time for the Kurdish fighters to withdraw from a "safe zone" Turkey aims to establish in northeast Syria near the Turkish border.

Read More Show Less

President Trump stoked confusion Friday by declaring the U.S. has "secured the Oil" in the Middle East amid continued fallout from the Turkish invasion of northern Syria that he enabled by pulling American troops out of the region.

It wasn't immediately clear what the president was talking about, as there were no publicly known developments in Syria or elsewhere in the Middle East relating to oil. White House aides did not return requests for comment.

Read More Show Less

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. State Department investigation of Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while she was secretary of state has found no evidence of deliberate mishandling of classified information by department employees.

The investigation, the results of which were released on Friday by Republican U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley's office, centered on whether Clinton, who served as the top U.S. diplomat from 2009 to 2013, jeopardized classified information by using a private email server rather than a government one.

Read More Show Less

BYESVILLE — A Meadowbrook High School student removed from class last Friday for being intoxicated is now facing a felony charge after allegedly threatening to shoot people if the previous incident harmed his chances to join a branch of the United States military.

Gabriel D. Blackledge, 18, of Cambridge, is facing one count of making terrorist threats, a third-degree felony, filed by the Guernsey County Sheriff's Office on Thursday. Blackledge remained incarcerated in the county jail on a $250,000 bond with no 10 percent allowed, according to the sheriff's office's website.

Read More Show Less