An agonizing amputation; a mother's miracle

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by JANET ST. JAMES

WFAA

Posted on May 13, 2010 at 9:59 PM

Updated Thursday, May 13 at 10:22 PM

DALLAS — Petty complaints of a comfortable marriage have all melted away for Katy and Al Hayes.

The loving couple already had two children, but the arrival of their third child changed everything.

The last thing Katy really remembers is giving birth at her Houston-area home on February 10.

And then this:

"Waking up in the hospital with no arms and legs. And going, 'What's going on here?' And then he tells me. And his story will knock your socks off, cause I had no idea I was going through all that."

Katy Hayes was unconscious the entire time — unaware that a common Group A strep infection had set in, eating away at her body.

She was unaware of the incredibly difficult decision her husband made for surgeons to amputate her arms and legs in the hope that they could save her life.

"I decided that I loved her so much that the risk was worth it," Al Hayes said. "And if we came out and I had to spend a lifetime taking care of her that the risk was worth it to say that I didn't give up on her. Right? She's my best friend."

At first, Al admits he wondered if Katy would forgive him. He wondered if she could have a full life without a full body.

There is no doubt now.

"It's a complete miracle that I'm alive, so I'm so grateful... I'm so grateful," Katy said. "I wouldn't be here for my kids if they wouldn't have taken my arms and legs."

Katy Hayes may not have limbs, but she does have life and all that it represents.

"I've got three beautiful children, so I'm doing good," she said.

Katy says she will one day learn to walk — perhaps at the same time as her baby girl.

Doctors call Katy Hayes' recovery a miracle, saying she had less than a five percent chance of survival.

Group A strep is a bacterium found in the throat and on the skin. It typically causes mild illnesses, like a sore throat or a skin infection.

Katy Hayes' case is rare because the bacteria infected her muscles, fat, and skin tissue.

E-mail jstjames@wfaa.com

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