Lana Kuykendall, Mom With Flesh-Eating Disease, Remains Critical

By Harriet McLeod

May 24 (Reuters) - The new mother of twins fighting a flesh-eating infection in South Carolina remained in critical condition on Thursday, but a hospital spokeswoman said she showed slight improvement.

Lana Kuykendall, 36, has now undergone 11 surgeries to remove dead tissue since she was admitted to the hospital on May 11 with a painful spot on her leg, Greenville Memorial Hospital spokeswoman Sandy Dees said.

She remains sedated and intubated although she is able to breathe on her own, her brother, Brian Swaffer, said.

"We are very thankful to the Lord that she has not had to have any amputations and that the necrotizing fasciitis has not spread outside of her legs," Swaffer said in a statement.

Kuykendall's infection has so far been far less traumatic than one being suffered by a Georgia graduate student. In that case, 24-year-old Aimee Copeland has lost her left leg and both hands to the disease and remains in critical condition.

The two women's infections were caused by different bacteria, doctors have said.

Kuykendall's infection was caused by Group A streptococcus, Dr. Bill Kelly, epidemiologist for the Greenville Hospital System, said earlier this week. Copeland's doctors, meanwhile, have blamed hers on Aeromonos hydrophila bacteria.

A 1996 report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated there were 500 to 1,500 cases of necrotizing fasciitis annually in the United States, with about 20 percent of them fatal. The National Necrotizing Fasciitis Foundation has said that estimate is probably low.

Kuykendall has worked as a paramedic while her husband, Darren, is a firefighter. Twins Abigail and Ian were born May 7 at a Georgia hospital.

Kuykendall's family members have created a website,, to keep family and friends updated on her progress. (Editing By Dan Burns)