PERTH AMBOY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — By the time he was 10-years-old, Jack Dudas had measles, mumps and rheumatic fever.
He survived them all.
But at 60-years-old, the retired attorney and former Perth Amboy city councilman had possibly the biggest test of his life.
Dudas suffered a medical nightmare after falling down the stairs at his home in Perth Amboy in January.
1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports
“It turned purple like two days after I fell down the stairs and then a day or so later I woke up and it was completely blown up,” Dudas told 1010 WINS. “It literally blew up overnight.”
Dudas sought treatment at a hospital where he learned he had developed necrotizing fasciitis, a rare flesh-eating infection.
“An emergency room doctor said, ‘If you had waited two more days to call an ambulance you’d have been dead,’” Dudas said. “He certainly did express urgency, so I didn’t put up a fuss. I said, ‘Operation, fine by me.’”
After three operations and a long recovery, he’s now able to make light of the situation.
“Before this happened, my right leg was numb from the knee down and my left leg was my good leg and now that I had this disease I don’t have a leg to stand on,” Dudas said.
Dudas hopes his story will act as a lesson to others.
“Don’t take life for granted because you just never know what’s going to happen when you wake up in the morning,” Dudas said.
Flesh-eating disease is caused by open wounds that become infected often from bacteria, such as MRSA.
Symptoms include high fever, inflamed skin and extreme pain. Doctors said it is imperative to seek medical treatment immediately.
Dudas said the bacteria was already in his system from the rheumatic fever and laid dormant in his body until the fall released the infection.
Patients diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis have a mortality rate of 73 percent.
Awareness of the condition has increased nationally after a 24-year-old Georgia woman developed flesh-eating disease after cutting her leg in a fall from a homemade zip line in May. Aimee Copeland had several limbs amputated.