Korbin still bears the scars on his back of the battle for his life that began when he was six days old. Otherwise, he is a typical toddler — happy, healthy and full of energy.
Korbin’s parents, Jade and Jimbo Kennedy, describe his recovery as miraculous.
“Some people might say, ‘That’s crazy.’ But I’m his mother. I saw what happened to him. I saw him almost leave, and now he’s here,” Jade Kennedy said. “Doctors can take you so far and medicine can take you so far, and the rest is up to God.”
Days after coming home from the hospital, Korbin began running a fever of 100.4 degrees. Medical staff at Children’s Hospital performed a lumbar puncture to rule out meningitis.
Korbin’s condition quickly deteriorated following the procedure.
At first, he was diagnosed with an allergic reaction to the antiseptic that had been used. Several more explanations of his symptoms were given before a surgeon identified them as necrotizing fasciitis, a flesh-eating disease caused by a bacterial infection.
The only way to treat it is to remove it completely.
“After his first surgery, the surgeon came in and said, ‘Right now you’re looking at a coin flip. I’ve seen babies this sick make it, and I’ve seen babies this sick die,’” Jimbo Kennedy said.
Three more surgeries would be required to get the deadly bacteria out of Korbin’s body. By that time, it had already taken more than 50 percent of his back and part of his buttocks.
After 33 days at Children’s Hospital, Korbin was transferred to Shriners Hospital for Children in Cincinnati.
There, he was finally declared infection-free, and a skin graft put him on the road to recovery.
Korbin may have to have further surgeries in the future if the skin does not stretch accordingly as he grows.
Following the skin graft, Korbin was fitted for compression garments that he was expected to wear for 18 to 24 months in order to keep pressure on the wound.
He healed so well that the garments were no longer needed after six months.
His parents must still be careful to keep Korbin’s lower back clean and cringe whenever they see him fall as he learns to walk.
“If he hits his back, we’re so afraid that skin is so fragile that it will rip right up,” Jade Kennedy said.
Because Korbin spent the first two months of his life in the hospital, he was two months behind on several developmental milestones. However, he is now right on schedule.
Korbin’s visits to Shriners Hospital for Children in Cincinnati have been cut back from bimonthly to annually. He will remain under Shriners’ care until he is 18 years old.
The family also keeps in touch with the local Shriners who paid for their travel expenses to Cincinnati. Two Shriners from Lincoln attended Korbin’s first birthday party this week.
Another individual who came into the Kennedy’s life during Kobin’s ordeal was a mother in the United Kingdom whose 2-year-old son also had necrotizing fasciitis in his lower back.
That child lost more than 80 percent of his flesh and must still wear compression garments.
A Georgia woman who was diagnosed with flesh-eating bacteria in the summer of 2012 eventually lost her hands and legs to the disease.
These cases are reminders to the Kennedys that their son earned his nickname of “Walker County’s miracle baby.”
“When you read the statistics of how many children under the age of 3 get it and make it, it’s not very high. It’s like a 92 percent mortality rate. We were prepared to lose limbs, especially when it started coming around the side of his back. We were really fortunate,” Jimbo Kennedy said.