A mother who was admitted to hospital with an aggressive flesh-eating infection just days after giving birth to twins has been reunited with the babies a month later.
These heart-wrenching images show the moment Lana Kuykendall, 36, was able to hold the babies again, after her condition improved and doctors deemed her well enough to be exposed to them.
'Lana grinned from ear to ear when she was holding them,' her brother, Brian Swaffer, said after watching her renuion the newborns, Abigail and Ian.
The new mother, from Greenville, South Carolina, is just one of the five victims ravaged by flesh-eating bacteria across the South, with some losing their limbs to the infection.
Reunited: This is the moment Lana Kuykendall, 36, was able to hold her newborn twins again. She was admitted to hospital with a flesh-eating infection days after they were born
Kuykendall was admitted to Greenville Memorial Hospital on May 11, after she noticed a painful spot on her leg that was ultimately diagnosed as necrotizing fasciitis, a serious infection of the skin.
It was caused by the skin bacteria Group A streptococcus, according to Dr. Bill Kelly, epidemiologist for the Greenville Hospital System. The infection grew one quarter of an inch in an hour.
She has since had almost 20 surgical procedures to contain and treat the infection, and is tentatively scheduled to have skin graft surgery on her legs, hospital spokeswoman Sandy Dees said.
Mrs Kuykendall also underwent extensive hyperbaric oxygen therapy, but has not had to have any limbs amputated, Ms Dees said. She has now been upgraded from critical to 'fair' condition.
Happy and healthy: Doctors deemed it safe for babies Abigail and Ian to be reunited with their mother
She has become more alert and responsive and has communicated by blinking, pointing and mouthing words, family members said.
'She has improved tremendously over the last week,' her husband Darren said. 'Although she is still in ICU, we believe she is on the road to recovery. She looks more and more like herself.'
Another woman is being treated for necrotizing fasciitis at Doctors Hospital in Augusta, Georgia.
Graduate student Aimee Copeland, 24, has lost one leg, both her hands and her remaining foot after she was infected when she cut herself after falling from a homemade zip line.
Doctors blamed her infection on Aeromonos hydrophila bacteria, which are found in fresh or brackish water and may have entered the wound when she fell into the river.
Torn away: She returned to hospital with a painful patch on her leg just 13 hours after returning home
Early detection: Mrs Kuykendall quickly recognized something was wrong as she is a paramedic. Her husband, Darren (pictured), said she has now improved and 'looks more and more like herself'
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2156262/Lana-Kuykendall-Flesh-eating-bacteria-mother-reunited-babies-hospital.html#ixzz1xDXjMVFc