Surviving a Superbug
Rex and Deborah Amini
The quintessential Texan, Rex Amini carries himself with authority. His wife, Deborah, describes him best, “He has always been this larger than life person, stronger than anyone I have ever known. He has this tough veneer, but I know it is just a veneer.”
A family man, Rex has three children. He runs an oil business with his brothers, spends time with Deborah on a variety of charities focused on inner-city education initiatives, and is a self-described outdoorsman. His collection of archaeological gems, global artifacts and hunting trophies are small glimpses into his impressive life story.
But, for 84 days beginning in November 2018, Rex was at the mercy of tiny bacteria that colonized in his cervical spine. Diagnosed with Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), he and his family and friends agonized, prayed and battled alongside a team of doctors for Rex’s future.
Racked with chills and fever, Rex thought he had the flu. His doctor miraculously had the foresight to perform a blood culture. Rex was rushed to the emergency room for MRSA treatment, where an infectious disease physician and a neurosurgeon collaborated on a treatment plan that not only saved Rex’s life but managed to ensure he would walk again. The bacteria were putting pressure on his spinal cord, which could have caused permanent paralysis. An emergency surgery relieved pressure from the bacteria buildup to lessen the danger of paralysis, but it took two weeks to find the appropriate cocktail of drugs to fight the infection. Rex doesn’t recall most of the month of December. In addition to fighting the bacteria, his body was so weakened from the infection, he went into pulmonary failure twice. His incredible recovery now consists of physical therapy appointments to strengthen his right side in the hopes of returning to his golf game soon.
“When something like this happens that is so much greater than anything you have ever known, it is an ever-present reminder that we really control nothing,” Deborah explained. “Our community, with places like Texas Biomed, the hospitals, the family and friends, the financial means we have is a reminder that we are blessed and called to do something for people who don’t have these resources.”
Deborah recalled the numerous rooms and patients the infectious disease physician visited during the time Rex was in the hospital, and she was in awe of the scope of the infectious disease problem.
“Here’s the bottom line,” Rex said. “These bugs are becoming resistant to the current means we have to control them, and this is becoming a bigger and bigger problem. There are scientists who say if you think cancer and heart disease are problems to the health of Americans, just wait until these superbugs become completely resistant to treatments. This problem is global, and we are obligated to look beyond the borders of our own country.”
Rex believes in the power of science, and happens to be a trustee on the Texas Biomed Board of Trustees. He joined the board several years ago simply because of a love of science. But, his latest health journey has provided him an even greater sense of purpose and appreciation for the power of science. Rex and Deborah shared that their good fortune and miracles were a direct result of access to treatment and medication.
“These antibiotic cocktails that saved my life are a direct result of science,” Rex said. “What the Infectious disease doctor was doing clinically was based on the science being done by researchers like those at Texas Biomed. He is standing on their shoulders.”
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