Mom Warns Parents After Son Dies of Flesh-Eating Bacteria From Falling Off His Bike


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Parents tend to have a tough time dealing with our children's injuries. While we try not to put too much stock into every single cut or scrape they get, we also fear that the minor accidents they often find themselves in will have terrifying, lasting effects. One mother's worst fears were realized after her son contracted flesh-eating bacteria after simply falling off his bike, ultimately resulting in his death. Now, she's hoping other parents will heed her warning.

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Eight-year-old Liam Flanagan was riding his bike down a steep hill on his family's farm in Pilot Rock, Oregon, when he crashed. According to OregonLive.com, one of the handlebars sliced through his jeans, creating a gash on his upper thigh that immediately began bleeding. His parents, worried, took him to a nearby emergency room, where a doctor gave him seven stitches and sent him home. 

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Flanagan's parents, Sara Hebard and Scott Hinkle, assumed their son would recover quickly. Days later, Flanagan began complaining about pain in his groin. Hebard treated it with Tylenol but the pain only got worse. Then, Hinkle noticed the gash on the 8-year-old's groin was beginning to look even worse. "It was purplish-red and gangrenous looking," he told OregonLive.com. "We threw him in the rig and went like hell."

When they took him back to the hospital, doctors quickly discovered that the boy had been infected with a flesh-eating bacteria known as necrotizing fasciitis. The CDC reports that this bacteria is pretty rare, with about 600 to 1,200 cases occurring in the United States each year, but very deadly. The bacteria had entered his wound from soil on the ground during his fall and quickly attacked his soft tissue. Flanagan underwent an emergency surgery at St. Anthony Hospital in Pendleton to remove the infected tissue. He was then airlifted to Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland, Oregon, where he underwent more surgeries.

Surgeons attempted to prevent the spread of the bacteria by cutting out muscle and tissue from the boy's body. "They basically cut him up piece by piece," said Scott Hinkle. "Almost his whole right side was gone," Sara Hebard added. "They kept cutting and hoping. Cutting and hoping."


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Unfortunately, the boy was never able to recover. Flanagan was transferred to another hospital on Sunday where other specialists hoped to help, but he passed away the same night. After watching her son's painful, eight-day battle, Hebard is still suspended in shock about how the entire thing occurred. "It wasn't a big deal. It wasn't a bad one. It just needed a few stitches is all, that's it," she told KPTV. "And he was taking it like a trooper. I mean, how … how … that's what I ask -- how? And there's just no answer."

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While she and her family are still mourning Flanagan's death, Hebard has some sound advice to offer other parents. "I would have to say for one, hug your children tight because you never know how quickly it goes. And then to pay attention to them and don't just take for granted it could just be a simple accident. And to spread awareness because people don't know. I had never even heard of this before."

The family has set up a GoFundMe campaign to help the family with Flanagan's medical expenses.

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