By then, "this thing had taken over the backside of my leg and was more than halfway up my thigh."

His luck turned when a friend, who happened to be a surgeon, recognized that something was awry and arranged for his transfer to another hospital, where doctors immediately recognized the symptoms. "Within an hour of checking into that hospital, I was in surgery," he said.

Each night for nearly two weeks, he underwent operations that included removal of the infected tissue and dead flesh.

"They told me every night for nine nights that they were going to take my leg off," he said. But one of the doctors put it off, saying "I'm going to take a chance here," he recalled.

"She was right, thank goodness. I made it through all the surgeries and debridement (tissue removal) and living on morphine for 2½ weeks ... I was able to survive the whole thing and I walked out of the hospital."

But his case, like most of the others he had learned about, generated no interest from the news media.

"The people who get it aren't 24 and grad students," he said, referring to Copeland. "And she's got a community of other students ... The press has kinda glamorized this one."