Claremore Daily Progress

Community News Network

October 30, 2013

Quadruple amputee regains independence after tornado-related illness

(Continued)

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. —

"Both of my arms and both of my legs looked like I had been put on a charcoal grill," Aker said. "They were just black and crispy. From that point on, it was doctors and more doctors."

Eventually, Aker was told doctors would have to amputate her legs and arms.

"(The doctors) seemed to think it could have been some type of bacteria that was picked up because this tornado was so large, and came so far, and picked up so much stuff, but there was really no way to tell," Aker said.

Similar mysterious cases of bacterial infections were reported in the wake of other natural disasters, including a tornado that struck Joplin, Mo., in 2011. According to the Joplin Globe, 13 people were diagnosed with a fungal infection in the wake of the tornado. Five of the 13 people who were infected with the bacteria died.

The fungus — apophysomyces trapeziformis — grows in soil, water and wood, and is harmless to humans unless it penetrates the skin. When it does penetrate the skin, it enters the capillaries and cuts off the blood flow to tissue, killing large areas of tissue.

A team with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention identified the Joplin cases as mucormycosis, an infection that results from the fungus. Those with diabetes or cancer are at an increased risk for the infection. Aker is a breast cancer survivor.

After the surgeries, Aker began the rehabilitation process that lasted nearly a year. She was fitted for prosthetic limbs at a rehab clinic in Louisville, Ky., before she was moved to a long-term facility in Sellersburg, Ind.

The response of Aker's hometown in the aftermath of the tornado was an inspiration to her.

 "We had help from a lot of people, but the entire community was very strong," Aker said. "Everybody who came through it, came through it stronger. And I think they came through with an appreciation of the human spirit."

Text Only
Community News Network
  • How spy agencies keep their 'toys' from law enforcement

    A little over a decade ago, federal prosecutors used keystroke logging software to steal the encryption password of an alleged New Jersey mobster, Nicodemo Scarfo Jr., so they could get evidence from his computer to be used at his trial.

    July 25, 2014

  • Russia's war on McDonald's takes aim at the Filet-o-Fish

    Russia said earlier this week that it had no intention of answering Western sanctions by making it harder for Western companies to conduct business in Russia.
    But all bets are off, apparently, when you threaten the Russian waistline.

    July 25, 2014

  • cleaning supplies Don't judge mothers with messy homes

    I was building shelves in my garage when a neighbor girl, one of my 4-year-old daughter's friends, approached me and said, "I just saw in your house. It's pretty dirty. Norah's mommy needs to clean more."

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • 072214 Diamond Llama 1.jpg Llama on the loose corralled in Missouri town

    A llama on the lam cruised Main Street Tuesday before it mistook a resident’s fenced backyard for a place to grab a meal and freshen up.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • NWS-HB0713-HowardMartin-004.jpg Airman laid to rest back home in Indiana six decades after death

    The mystery of what happened to a military transport plane that disappeared in the fall of 1952 into an Alaskan glacier was solved two years ago when a helicopter crew spotted the wreckage. But it took another two years to retrieve the remains of Airman Howard Miller and 16 other servicemen passengers. Saturday, Miller was laid to rest in his hometown of Elwood, Ind., with full military honors. Hundreds turned out for the funeral and burial services.

    July 13, 2014 2 Photos

  • New York to offer free lunch to all middle-school students

    New York's $75 billion spending plan for the fiscal year that began last week includes the first step toward offering free lunch for all 1.1 million students, expanding a program now reserved only for the city's poorest children.

    July 9, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 11.24.10 AM.png VIDEO: Pilot buys pizzas for storm-delayed travelers

    A Frontier Airlines pilot went above and beyond the call of duty when a recent flight from Washington, D.C. to Denver was diverted to Cheyenne, Wyoming due to bad weather.

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Why North Korean cheerleaders may soon descend on the South

    When you think of North Korea, "cheerleaders" may not be the first thing that springs to mind. The Hermit Kingdom is perhaps better known for less savory things like gulag-like labor camps and leadership purges.

    July 8, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 11.46.13 AM.png VIDEO: Foiled beach gear theft goes viral

    Video capturing a bizarre confrontation with two women allegedly attempting to steal beach gear on a Florida beach has gone viral.

    July 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 10.40.20 AM.png VIDEO: Sleeping fan suing Yankees, ESPN for $10M

    A fan caught on camera sleeping during a recent game at Yankee Stadium has filed suit against the Yankees and ESPN, claiming he suffered emotional distress when two announcers mocked him on the air.

    July 8, 2014 1 Photo