I have appreciated the thoughtful and lively discussion on this series. It is clear that we need new drugs to combat multi-drug resistant Gram-negative bacteria, but it’s also clear that there is much we can do right now, today, to fight them — using antibiotics wisely and adhering to infection control procedures. However, with all of our discussions about the science, I think it’s important that we close this series by taking a moment to reflect on exactly why this issue is so urgent and important.
Please see the personal story below from Victoria and Armando Nahum, who after losing their son to a Gram-negative infection, are spearheading important work toward eliminating these infections. Their story reminds us that our work is far from done.
– Arjun Srinivasan
The Story of Josh Nahum
Victoria and Armando Nahum
Safe Care Campaign
Antimicrobial resistance is one of the scariest prospects patients and families now face while receiving care in a hospital or other healthcare facility. We know this all too well. We lost our son Josh to a Gram-negative infection in 2006.
Certainly organisms such as MRSA and C. difficile remain complex problems. However, Gram-negative infections loom heavy as one of the greatest challenges of our time because this type of bacteria can beat most or all antibiotics.
Once a loved one acquires a Gram-negative infection, chances are that the outlook for recovery is dire. Josh’s infection struck him while he was recuperating from an accident and on a hopeful path to a good recovery. Just as he was progressing, his infection was discovered within his cerebral spinal fluid. From there, it continued to develop rapidly, causing unbelievable pressure around his brain – so much pressure that it actually pushed part of his brain into his spinal column making him a permanent ventilator-dependent quadriplegic.
Josh died 2 weeks later. He was 27.
Our hope for the future is 3-fold:
- That patients and their families educate themselves on how to safely receive medical care prior to a hospital admission whenever possible.
- That compulsive hand hygiene and infection control compliance is practiced by everyone who comes into contact with the patient.
- That drug companies will invest in research to fight these virulent bacteria that some call “The Rising Plague”.