Kelli Whitehead’s recovery continues

Kelli Whitehead’s recovery continues
Brittany Burton, left, shared this photo of herself, her mom, Kelli Whitehead, and her grandmother, Joan Smart Brown. - Brittany Burton | Submitted

BRADENTON – Kelli Whitehead is making progress in her battle with necrotizing fasciitis, but she still faces a long road to recovery.

As of Sunday, Whitehead, a Bradenton resident, remained hospitalized at Blake Medical Center in Bradenton, with necrotizing fasciitis, the technical term for the symptom of decomposing flesh.

Whitehead’s family believes she encountered a harmful bacteria while wading in the Gulf of Mexico in Bradenton Beach approximately three weeks ago. But no doctor or Florida Department of Health official has confirmed the Gulf as the source of the bacteria.

On Monday, Nov. 4, Whitehead’s daughter, Brittany Burton, said the doctor told her the bacteria her mom contracted was staphylococcus. Burton, a Bradenton resident, said the doctor could not confirm the family’s suspicions regarding the bacteria’s origins.

Burton and Whitehead’s sister, Amanda Fletcher, originally expressed fears that Whitehead might not survive this ordeal, but those fears have been alleviated.

“Just got an update from Kelli’s husband: The doctor said she is doing really good. They have taken most of the hookups off her and are starting to work her off the ventilator. She still isn’t awake and aware but is partially at times. She will have a very, very long road ahead the doctor said, but he said she’s going to be fine!” Fletcher posted at her Facebook page on Saturday.

“Robbin (Whitehead’s husband) said he’s never seen a doctor with as much passion as Kelli’s. And I knew when I went to see her, I had never seen such care given at a hospital. Kelli has had her own full-time nurse the whole time, either always in her room or right outside it. She’s had a team of wonderful doctors as well. I truly believe had she been anywhere else she may be in a different situation. But mostly she wouldn’t be where she is now without the prayers and God. Please continue prayers for her and she has a long, long way to go and a lot to still go through. But I am grateful she will be here to go through that,” Fletcher wrote.

Sunday morning, Fletcher wrote in a text message, “She breathed for two and a half hours on her own yesterday. She smiled at them last night.”

Sunday evening, Burton wrote in a text message, “She’s has been breathing on her own since 8:30 this morning. She is doing good and her turnaround is amazing. We are continuing to pray. I’m so grateful for her being with us today.”

News of Whitehead’s health challenges became public on Oct. 28 when her mother, Joan Smart Brown, from Memphis, Tenn., started a Facebook fundraising page for Kelli Brown Whitehead. At the fundraising page, Brown expressed the family’s suspicions regarding the source of the bacteria and noted one of Whitehead’s legs had been amputated.

As of Monday, Nov. 11, 36 contributors donated $2,300 to Brown’s fundraiser. The funds will assist Whitehead and her husband with their living expenses. Fletcher, who lives in Covington, Tenn., started a second Facebook fundraiser titled “In Kelli’s Corner,” which raised another $250.

Brown arrived in Bradenton on Monday, Nov. 4 and spent time last week with her daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren.

Related coverage

Local woman hospitalized for necrotizing fasciitis