Teacher continues to recover from dangerous infection - KMSP-TV

Teacher continues to recover from dangerous infection

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Karen Thieken is recovering from a bacterial infection. Karen Thieken is recovering from a bacterial infection.
GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. -

A Gwinnett County community is pulling together after a music teacher nearly died six months ago after contracting dangerous bacterial infection.

Karen Thieken suffered permanent hearing loss after fighting the infection. Doctors told her it was the same bacteria that causes flesh-eating disease. Thieken is still recovering physically and financially.

"I have the luxury for not remembering the majority of it because I was out and in a medically-induced coma for so long," said Thieken.

Her husband, Paul, a music teacher, remembers every bit of it all too clearly.

"There's two strains. One is the flesh-eating and the other shuts down all the organs," said Paul Thieken. "Every medical professional told me who saw Karen, even three days later, said they never thought they'd see her again. We know it's a miracle."

Six months after fighting for her life in ICU, Karen is now able to walk and hug every person who cane to a Lawrenceville restaurant to support her.  The community is raising money so the Thieken's can pay their medical bills and buy a hearing aid.

The illness cost Karen the hearing on her right side.

"This is what churches do. We're a community, a community of believers. That we're here for each and we're here to support Karen and Paul and their kids tonight.  She's a complete miracle that she survived this," said Rob Bruce.

"This will make a huge difference... we were both out of work," said Paul Thieken.

"I think the neatest thing is that here at Pollo Tropical, we're in the shadow of Gwinnett Medical Center where my life was saved. So it's kind of interesting to have it come full circle," said Karen Thieken.

Karen says she still deals with pain and extreme fatigue. Doctors believe she picked up the bacteria and got it in to her system when she scratched her neck that was affected by eczema.

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