Only on NBC15: Local boy recovering after feet amputated due to rare infection

By: Madeline Anderson Email
By: Madeline Anderson Email

Published: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 --- 5:25 p.m.

At four years old, Dawson Henry was by all means a typical little boy.

"He loves playing Ninja Turtles," said Beth Henry, Dawson's mom. "He has a younger brother Wesley, he's three, and as you can imagine, two boys so close in age are best friends and worst enemies at any given time. He was a very active kid. He really likes to run around, play swords, play fighting, riding his bike."

But fast forward a couple months, and Dawson is now unable to do most of the activities he used to love to do.

"We came into the hospital May 15, that was a Wednesday." The Madison area mom remembers one day this spring when her son started breaking out into hives. They eventually turned purple and covered much of his lower body.

Dawson was diagnosed with Purpura Fulminans, an infection that affects the skin and soft tissue, and has only been seen by doctors at the UW-Madison hospital a handful of times in the last 20 years.

Working to save his life, surgeons in the Burn Center removed all the skin from Dawson's legs. In the process, they realized he no longer had enough blood flow to his feet.

"And so, the same day he had the skin grafting of his legs, he also had both of his feet amputated just above the ankle," Beth said.

It's an incredibly difficult procedure for anyone to go through, let alone a child.

"He's four and a half years old. With the purple, as he called it on his legs was how it all started, that made him terrified to see his lower body," Beth said. "And with the continuous changes, he's still four and a half years old. So it's pretty crazy to see bandages on his legs and no feet."

The good news, Dawson's doctor says he should be cured. Cases of Purpura Fulminans have never come back a second time. And the once playful little boy is starting to smile once again.

"We are slowly working to try and take the sheet off when we're moving him from his bed to his wheelchair; talk about, this is your legs and that's OK," Beth said.

She says as soon as Dawson is stronger and in less pain, he will be fitted for prosthetic feet and could be using them by December.

"He's going to have those feet," Beth said. "And he's going to be chasing after his brother, running circles in the house within the next six months or so."

The family has also received an incredible amount of support from the community throughout this whole ordeal.

Beth says the way she's coped with everything is by blogging about both the good and the challenging moments. She's gotten tons of supportive comments through that. Her brother also created a donations web page to help the family out with medical expenses.

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