It was the crying and pleas for help that drew Dr. John Crew to Lori Madsen’s bedside at Seton Medical Center one day in January 2012.
Madsen, then 51, was several days into a terrifying case of necrotizing fasciitis – also known as flesh-eating disease. Her left arm had swollen to four times its normal size, and she’d had surgery to scrape out dead tissue. The pain was unbearable.
“My arm was dying on the inside. It was extremely horrifying,” said Madsen, now 53. “It wasn’t until it was all over, and I was out of the hospital that Dr. Crew sat down with me and said, ‘Lori, we almost lost you.’ I never knew I was that sick.”
Madsen was Crew’s test subject – the first to undergo a relatively simple-sounding treatment for necrotizing fasciitis that the Daly City doctor says saved her arm and her life.