Dalton man setting example for flesh-eating bacteria treatment - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Dalton man setting national example for flesh-eating bacteria treatment

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DALTON, GA (WRCB) -- Billy Rice barely had a foot left, after a flesh-eating disease took hold. His doctor is making medical history with his treatment that saved rice from amputation.

Bobby Rice says it all started when he cut his foot after stepping on a piece of glass last summer. Not thinking anything of it, he super glued the cut and went on. A few weeks later, it was badly infected and his doctor diagnosed him with Necrotizing Faciitis, which is also known as a flesh eating bacteria.

"It just looked like something you see in a horror picture. I mean, it didn't look real. Then I knew. I said I was afraid I was going to lose my foot and my leg," Bobby Rice said.

Today Bobby Rice is standing and even walking, but when his doctor first removed the flesh-eating bacteria from his foot and up his leg, there wasn't much left but bone and amputation was likely.

"Didn't know what I was going to do. You don't know how you're going to feel or act when it comes to losing something. There's a not a enough money or a price you can put on it," Rice said.

Then his podiatrist, Dr. Spencer Misner, thought of an experiment using stem cells from placenta from umbilical cords.

"Why not? I have nothing to lose and everything to gain," Rice said.

Dr. Misner contacted Osiris Therapeutics, a stem cell company based in Maryland. They told him stem cells had never been used to re-grow a foot, but donated the tissue so he could try.

"Kind of flying by my boot straps. I just kind of guessing along the way," Dr. Spencer Misner said.

"I never dreamed it would be me being the experiment," Rice said.

"Once I started seeing healing of the tendons take place, I started getting a little goosebumpy," Dr. Misner said.

The before pictures are too graphic to show, but an after picture shows the result after several months of applying the stem cells every few weeks.

"It almost breaks me down and want to cry. I don't know how to express it," Rice said.

After a few more treatments, Dr. Misner says Bobby will be as healed as possible and will eventually be able to lose the walker.

"Miracles still do happen. You can't give up," Rice said.

Dr. Misner says Bobby's foot is famous throughout the medical community. He hopes more patients will be able to save their limbs with stem cells. He says he's already had several inquiries and a patient possibly coming to Dalton from Kansas for the treatment. Bobby thinks the reason he survived was to be an example.

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