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Flesh-eating disease took her arms and legs, but not her spirit

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Published on Aug 2, 2011

Cyndi Desjardins looked wonderful, and she felt wonderful.

It was early February, she was home on maternity leave, hanging out with Liam, her newborn son, and Cienna, her 6-year-old daughter. She went for long walks, cooked and puttered around her house north of Newmarket.

On Feb. 2, she woke up with a high fever and an excruciating pain in her right thigh. When it didn't stop for two days, Desjardins called 911 and went to Southlake hospital, expecting to have an IV strung up her arm and to return home in a day or two. Instead she disappeared into coma and woke up five weeks later to find her arms amputated below the elbows and legs cut off just below her knees.

She was 43 and a quad amputee.

Desjardins had contracted necrotizing fasciitis, commonly known as flesh-eating disease, a rare infection in the deeper layers of the skin. There are 90 to 200 cases in Canada every year; about 20 to 30 per cent are fatal.

"I couldn't believe it at first . . . I was shocked," says Desjardins, a gentle smile on her face. "But I soon realized how things could have been worse, much worse. I was alive."

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