Jacksonville man survives rare, deadly disease

Tooth infection takes over man's body

Published On: Jun 13 2012 10:53:37 PM EDT   Updated On: Jun 14 2012 05:44:51 AM EDT
Steven
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

On April 26, Steven Walker's life changed forever when he developed an extremely rare disease from a tooth infection that quickly took over 90 percent of his body.

Doctors told Barbara Gilbert it was time to say goodbye to her 29-year-old son.

"He began throwing up and by the time I got home from work about four hours later, he was turning blue," Gilbert said.

When Walker arrived at the hospital his organs had already shut down causing him to go into a six-week-long coma.

"The doctors said just pray. They didn't expect him to live. Not one doctor in that hospital expected him to live and they told us that," Gilbert said.

Doctors diagnosed Walker with Capnocytophaga, a rare and deadly disease.

"I am not a person who asks for help, I'm the giver I'm supposed to be the giver and I'm a single mom so I am used to having all the answers for all my kids," said Gilbert. "This is something that was totally out of my control and I don't have answers for."

Walker's hands and legs had to be amputated to save his life. He is now one of the only known survivors of Capnocytopheaga. He is expected to be released from the hospital in a couple of weeks. His mother wants to take him Jamaica, a place where she's devoted her life to helping others.

Gilbert has appeared on Channel 4 before for her work, helping to build homes for the poor in Jamaica. Now she says she is the one who needs help, as her son has mounting medical bills and no insurance.

"We're just so happy he's alive, and it's been very, very difficult as a family but Steven's been our inspiration because he's fought so hard to come back to us," said Gilbert.

To help Barbara and Steven, click here to visit their YouCaring.com site.