When Antibiotics Failed, She Found a Natural Enemy of Superbug Bacteria to Save Husband’s Life
By Judy Cole – Jul 23, 2022
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Tom Patterson was dying in a U.S. hospital from a massive bacterial infection he’d contracted while traveling in Egypt. Doctors gave him a prognosis of days.
Fortunately, his wife, Steffanie Strathdee, happened to be an infectious disease epidemiologist, who was not going to give up searching for the needle in a haystack required to cure him.
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However, with more than 10 million-trillion-trillion unique phages on the planet, identifying a handful that specifically fed on the Acinetobacter baumannii afflicting Tom was a task akin to finding one tiny star in a huge galaxy.
The deadly superbug is nicknamed Iraqibacter because wounded combat troops sometimes contracted it in Iraq—and it ranks No. 1 on the World Health Organization’s list of dangerous pathogens. Undaunted, Strathdee quickly began networking to get Tom the treatment he so desperately needed to survive.
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Help from Texas A&M, the FDA, and the U.S. Navy
Her first task was appealing to scientists to track down and purify samples of phages that fed on the specific strain of bacteria that was killing Tom. Texas A&M University biochemist Ryland Young, who’s been tracking phages for more than four and a half decades, was eager to help. Researchers from the U.S. Navy soon signed up for the mission as well.
Strathdee’s plea to the FDA to fast-track a “compassionate use” order allowing doctors to implement an experimental treatment was granted in record time. A scant three weeks later, Tom was injected with his first intravenous dose of a purified “phage cocktail” from the team at Texas A&M. Seeing no negative effects, he received his second IV dose, courtesy of the U.S. Navy, two days later.
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Very impressive effortt by this woman.
And I often don’t have good things to say about the Gooferment, its politicians and bureaucrats, or bureaucracies in general. Here the stars aligned and everyone perform far above expectations to save the man’s life.
From the movie “Master & Commader”, “an extra ration of rum for these men” and women.
The effort be all was nothing less that “heroic” and I don’t apply that adjective often if at all.
God Bless All of them.