Dargaville family confident an MRSA antibiotic will be found

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By Danica MacLean –
Ellie Weight's parents Rolf and Karen Weight know just how much difference an MRSA killing antibiotic could make. Photo/Michael Cunningham
Ellie Weight’s parents Rolf and Karen Weight know just how much difference an MRSA killing antibiotic could make. Photo/Michael Cunningham

The father of a Dargaville girl who contracted superbug MRSA says he has faith an antibiotic which kills the infection will be found in the future.

Rolf Weight’s daughter Ellie was 10 years old and running in the Northern Wairoa cross-country competition in 2014 when she jumped into a ditch and hurt her leg. Doctors originally thought she had injured a muscle or ligament.

After a week of Ellie being unable to stand – screaming in pain, multiple visits to the doctors and high doses of strong painkillers, her parents took her for an ultrasound.

From the ultrasound they went to Whangarei Hospital. Mum Karen Weight said the pain she was in was “horrible”.

An MRSA killing antibiotic could help Ellie Weight, who contracted the superbug in 2014, in the future. Photo/Michael Cunningham
An MRSA killing antibiotic could help Ellie Weight, who contracted the superbug in 2014, in the future. Photo/Michael Cunningham

She had an operation to drain pus which had built up in her hip.

It was around this time the Weights were told Ellie had contracted Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA).

MRSA is a superbug which is immune to common antibiotics. In Ellie it was in her hip, and moved to her elbow and knee.

“The infection was just eating away at her bones and cartilage.”

Doctors tried Ellie on various antibiotics, the side effects of one “were so horrific her vital organs started shutting down”.

She was flown to Starship. “At that stage they told us she could actually die,” Mrs Weight said.

Multiple operations went deeper and deeper into her hip to drain the pus.

Mrs Weight said progress was “very very slow”. Ellie lost muscle tone, developed kidney stones, her guts took a battering from the drugs, and she frequently vomited her nasogastric intubation tube.

“It accumulated as hell.”

Eventually she was placed in a body cast, with a hole cut out over her hip to keep removing the pus.

She stayed at Starship for four and a half months, and when she came home she was on 28 tablets a day.

After several months in a wheelchair, she was fitted with a hip spica cast which she has worn for two years.

“The infection has eaten away her whole ball joint, the cartilage is long gone, part of the pelvis is gone.”

As the bone grows back, the clam shell cast holds her hip in a set position so the bones can fuse “in the best suitable position for her to have a compromised lifestyle”.

A hip replacement is out of the question as doctors don’t recommend her having foreign objects as the bug could colonise on to it.

Mrs Weight said hypothetically speaking, if there was an antibiotic she knew would kill MRSA, they would consider an artificial hip.

The Weights said while in their case, an early blood test would have detected the infection and they could have got on to it sooner, they know an MRSA-killing antibiotic would help many families.

“If they invent a new antibiotic that works faster, it would have reduced the damage.”

The Cure Kids ‘Fight Against Superbugs’ crowdfunding campaign started last week.

The campaign aims to raise $250,000 to support research by University of Auckland scientists who are studying fungi from a collection by Landcare Research to see if they contain pathogen-fighting properties.

Microbiologist Dr Siouxsie Wiles, head of the Bioluminescent Superbugs Lab at the University and her team aim to study 1000 fungi from the collection of 10,000 over the next 12 months.

They are hopeful they will make rapid progress on the hunt for new antibiotics after results from the pilot were promising.

Source : Northern Advocate

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