Patient in UCI Health Regional Burn Center talks about condition that destroys skin and muscle in his leg

July 31, 2014

IN THE NEWS: Michele Gile of KCBS and KCAL TV interviewed a UC Irvine Medical Center patient being treated for an infection that has destroyed skin and muscle tissue in his right leg.

Costa Mesa resident Todd Thomas believes he was bitten by a poisonous brown recluse spider at his home in early June. His foot swelled and became painful, eventually sending him to a Fountain Valley- area community hospital. After a week, the hospital transferred him to the UCI Health Regional Burn Center for more specialized treatment. Since June 18, Thomas has undergone seven trips to the operating room to clean the wounds and remove dead skin and muscle from his foot, lower leg and thigh. On Wednesday, he received skin grafts.

While the surgeons treating him can’t say whether his condition was caused by spider venom or a bacterial infection, they say the results are the same.

“Any break in the skin can become infected, whether it’s a bite or a small cut,” said Dr. Victor Joe, a trauma surgeon and director of the burn unit. “It’s important to keep an eye on it. Seek medical attention for pain, redness and swelling that lasts more than eight hours.”

The interview is expected to air today during the 5 p.m. KCBS and 8 p.m. KCAL newscasts.