A 52-year-old Australian socialite, Stephenie Rodriguez, has narrated how she got her two feet amputated and endured an 18-month nightmare when she contracted cerebral malaria from a mosquito bite during a visit to Lagos.
In a report by the Sydney Morning Herald, the single mother and digital entrepreneur said she had visited Lagos in 2019 to speak at a business gathering for travel executives. She said during the gathering, she and the invited guests were asked to assemble outside for a photo shoot next to a pool of stagnant water. She said it was while she was there that she got bitten three times by a mosquito on her left ankle.
Armed with enough insect repellant, Rodriguez said she conscientiously doused herself in insect repellant but did not take any anti-malaria drugs because of the bad reaction she suffered when she took one sometime back.
”The organisers asked me to go outside for a photo shoot with delegates. They had drones, shot B roll [extra footage], and vox pops. It was filmed next to a pool of stagnant water. It was sunset. That’s when I believe I was bitten three times by a mosquito on my left ankle” she said
Days later after flying to India, Rodriguez said she began to feel tired and unwell but dismissed the feeling, describing it as ‘out of character’ and ‘compound jet-lag’. It was while she got to Boston that she had to be rushed to the hospital after she took ill at the airport and was struggling to eat and drink.
She was rushed to the Massachusetts General Hospital where an infectious diseases specialist had confirmed that Rodriguez had cerebral malaria. By then she had fallen into a coma. According to the doctors, Rodriguez had only a two percent chance of survival after Artesunate – a drug used to treat severe malaria – sent her into septic shock and organ failure.
In a last-ditch effort to save her life, doctors used vasopressor drugs to redirect blood flow from her limbs to her vital organs.
“It was the last trick in the bag, and they cautioned my family that if I survived, there would be collateral damage.”