'This is a devastating blow': Father of three in critical condition after developing threatening strep infection

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Jonathan Watson, his wife Megan and their three children. Image via GoFundMe.

A California father of three is in critical condition after developing two life-threatening illnesses while travelling overseas.

On Jan. 18, Jonathan Watson was away on business in Europe when he “fell seriously ill.” Following his trip, Watson was admitted to Saddleback Hospital near his southern California home where he was diagnosed with Influenza B and Group A Streptococcus (GAS), a group of bacterial infections that can lead to a variety of diseases including strep throat (acute pharyngitis), scarlet fever (streptococcus pyogenes), acute rheumatic fever, soft tissue infections such as type II necrotizing fasciitis (flesh eating disease) and streptococcal toxic shock syndrome (STSS).

Image via GoFundMe.

According to a GoFundMe account set up by family friend Ally Byrne, Watson was transferred to UCLA Medical Centre due to the severity of his illness, where his condition rapidly worsened. Watson’s bacterial infection progressed causing him to develop STSS, a dangerous GAS complication that causes organ failure, fever, skin rash, flu-like symptoms, confusion, diarrhea, vomiting and sever muscle pain. Although toxic shock syndrome is primarily associated with women and tampon use, STSS can occur in both men and women of all ages and has a high fatality rate of up to 81 per cent.

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“We’ve all heard of [strep] or even had it. Who knew such a common bacterial infection could turn into something so deadly?” Byrne wrote on the GoFundMe page. “Unfortunately Strep A’s severe consequences are one of the biggest hurdles Jon’s body has to fight and overcome.”

Image via GoFundMe.

Doctors declared Watson “the sickest person in UCLA medical,” as the bacteria levels in his body multiplied. After multiple surgeries including the amputation of both of his legs from the knee down, Watson continued to fight for his life in the hopes of returning to his wife Megan and their three sons, 7-year-old Landon, 6-year-old Maddox and 3-year-old Wyatt.

“This is a devastating blow for someone as active as Jon,” Byrne wrote in a separate update, adding that he’s “the dad who runs up and down the football and soccer fields encouraging his sons as they play their hardest.”

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After several weeks using an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine, a form of life support to pump and oxygenate blood outside of the body allowing Watson’s heart and lungs to rest, there have been some “miracles” and moments that have given the family hope.

Image via GoFundMe.

“We are confident Jon is in there. We know his brilliant brain must just be too busy doing quantum physics to be bothered with mundane tasks like waking up. What isn’t too mundane for him though? The sound of Megan’s voice,” Byrne wrote in a Feb. 7 update. “At first opportunity this morning, per usual, Megan visited her husband and talked to him. At the sound of her voice Jon’s normally-rolling eyes shot over to Megan’s direction for the briefest of seconds. This, my friends, is what keeps us going.”

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Earlier this week, Byrne told Watson’s GoFundMe supporters that Watson’s wife continues living “minute to minute” and that, although doctors have explained to the family that the prognosis is “not good,” Watson’s doctors remained determined to “keep on keepin’ on.”

Image via GoFundMe.

“Even when feeling his worst, Jon’s support for Megan never wavered,” Byrne wrote. “Before being urgently whisked away by his admitting team at Saddleback Hospital Jon grasped Megan’s hand, held it tight while looking her in the eyes and said ‘I’m not leaving you.’ Anyone who knows Jon knows he is a man of his word. We’re taking you for your word, Jon.”

To donate to the Watson family, click here.

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