San Francisco mother battles 'flesh-eating bacteria'

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. -- Two young siblings in San Francisco are struggling with emotions, medical decisions, and desperate finances after their mother came down with the so-called "flesh-eating bacteria." The family wants to share their story with others. It's a story you'll see only on ABC7 News.

This emotional story is playing out in the intensive care unit on the first floor of the hospital. The infection is so aggressive that it can take amputation to stop its spread. And a once-vibrant mother doesn't know yet what's happening to her.

Daisy Lee has always been the one in her family who helps others.

"She's the glue," said Galin Luk, Lee's younger brother. "She's the one who takes care of everyone, and it's true."

Now the 46-year-old is facing a sudden illness where she has to depend on others. She is fighting a rare infection called necrotizing fasciitis, commonly called flesh-eating bacteria. It can be caused by several strains of bacteria that release toxins that begin to destroy the body's tissues.

She has had four surgeries and is under heavy sedation, unaware of the radical steps taken to keep the bacteria from spreading. Her right arm has been amputated, and more amputations are likely.

"One moment she went in, thinking she was just dealing with flu-like symptoms, and she will be waking up three weeks later, possibly a month later, without her arm, probably with her fingers amputated, with her toes amputated, and that's in a good case scenario," Luk said.

Daisy's husband is in shock over this, leaving the critical decisions to their son and to their daughter Tiffany Lee, who is a registered nurse.

"I know what's going on medically, and I know what has to be done in order to save her," said Tiffany. "I know she would do the same for me. But it's just hard being, you know, a family member, seeing her go through that. We almost lost her a couple times. And it was tough the first week, especially for me and my brother."

Tiffany's mother is the primary wage earner in the family. It's uncertain if she can work again. A long recuperation lies ahead. Relatives and friends have been raising money online on to ease the financial burden.

Chris, her only son, believes his mom has the will to fight this battle against a disease that can take the life of one in four patients.

"She's still pretty critical, but she makes improvements every day," he said. "So I still see the fight in her."

Family members are at the intensive care unit every day.

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