GoFundMe launched for Vancouver firefighter who had leg amputated due to flesh-eating disease

Fundraiser for firefighter

A fundraiser has been launched for a Vancouver firefighter who lost his leg following an infection with flesh-eating disease overseas. 

Christopher Won, an Assistant Chief with Vancouver Fire Rescue Services (VFRS), was on a family vacation his with partner Marie Hui in Hong Kong when he began experiencing severe symptoms of necrotizing fasciitis, also known as "flesh-eating disease."

Hui, who often sings the national anthems at Vancouver Canucks games, shared an image of Won in a hospital bed holding a bouquet from Mayor Ken Sim and Vancouver city council in an Instagram post. She explained how her partner had undergone a "harrowing set of surgeries" due to the infection, resulting in an "above-the-knee leg amputation."

She added that doctors "fought hard" and that the Vancouverite almost didn't make it out of the surgery alive. 

Hui also shared a message from Won who wanted to express his gratitude for the outpouring of support from back home.

"I never imagined my situation would reach the knowledge of the mayor and council. I’m so thankful and can’t wait to come home to thank you all in person," he said.

GoFundMe campaign launched for Vancouver firefighter

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched by Linda Broda, who is a close friend of Won and Hui. She says Won has served Vancouverites as a firefighter for over 20 years and that the family needs support rebuilding their lives following the tragedy. 

While they were covered by medical insurance for the trip, Won will need to purchase a prosthetic limb and undergo rehabilitation when he returns to Vancouver; he will also be out of work.

As of this writing, the "Help Chris Rebuild After Emergency Amputation" campaign has raised $122,523.

Fire Chief Karen Fry told V.I.A. that the VFRS is "obviously worried" about Won and his family being far from Vancouver and the people who want to help them. 

"At Vancouver Fire Rescue Services we are one big family and anytime one of us is in need, we come together to support and help," she said. 

"Christopher is one of the strongest, most resilient, and committed people we know. We know he will overcome any obstacles he will have."

Fry thanked the community for the "outpouring of support," as well as support from VFRS staff and friends.

How do you get flesh-eating disease?

Strep A infections typically cause mild illnesses such as strep throat or skin rashes and most people recover with antibiotics. 

However, when the infection becomes invasive (and becomes iGAS), it can cause life-threatening pneumonia, sepsis, toxic shock syndrome, and necrotizing fasciitis, also known as flesh-eating disease.

Dr. Brian Conway, medical director of the Vancouver Infectious Diseases Centre (VIDC), told V.I.A. that flesh-eating disease "is a rapidly progressing illness" with no incubation period, meaning that Won likely developed it in Hong Kong. 

Conway says there is "no clear biological explanation" why some people get severe infections from strep A. People can have a "completely normal" and healthy immune system and still have life-threatening complications. However, these infections are extremely rare, with only four British Columbians out of 1 million developing it in a year. 


A post shared by Marie Hui (@mariehui)


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