Vanessa Carter Shares Her Battle Against Antimicrobial Resistance
By the bioMérieux Editors | Reading time: 2 min
PUBLICATION DATE: NOVEMBER 8, 2023
She was 25 and had no idea of what Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) was before her car accident. Here is her story.
At age 25, Vanessa Carter experienced a severe car accident in Johannesburg, South Africa, that changed the course of her life. The accident caused massive, life-threating injuries that left her with organ damage, internal bleeding, serious fractures and wounds that disfigured the right side of her face.
Over the next ten years, Vanessa underwent a series of facial reconstruction surgeries. Shortly after receiving a facial prosthetic, she felt a fluid coming out of her face. An emergency procedure to clean the infected prosthetic only made the situation worse.
Vanessa fought an endless battle against infection after infection. As time passed, the infections caused much of her face to deteriorate and made it impossible for her to wear a prosthetic eye. None of the antibiotics her doctors prescribed could clear the infection.
"These medications are supposed to be working, and they're not," said Vanessa. "That's a frightening experience."
Clinical pathologists tested the facial prosthetic and discovered the presence of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) as the root cause of the issue. Vanessa was face-to-face with the consequences of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).
Empowered by the diagnostic tools that had identified Vanessa's MRSA, her medical team could now adjust their prescribing practices to target her infection. She then underwent a second surgery to repair the disfigurement, however another infection reappeared. Antibiotics were then rotated and three months later, her face finally began to heal. It would take years until she felt like she could go out in public without having to cover her face to avoid unwanted attention.
AMR presents a serious threat to patient health around the world, contributing to the deaths of at least 4.95 million people per year. AMR continues to disrupt lives and cause long-term health issues for millions of people. As existing antibiotics become less effective, surgeries will become riskier to perform. More patients will have to deal with post-surgery bacterial infections, just like Vanessa did.
Vanessa's difficult experience inspired her to become a patient advocate in the fight against AMR since 2013. She shares her story widely, including with medical professionals and plocimakers to bring attention to the patient perspective and has served as an advisor with many public health organizations worldwide.
She has been involved with the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) in the US, the WHO Strategic Technical Advisory Group on AMR (STAG-AMR) and WHO Taskforce of AMR Survivors, The Advisory Committee on Antimicrobial Prescribing, Resistance and Healthcare Associated Infection (APRHAI) in the UK, and the African CDC. She is also the founder of a registered UK charity called The AMR Narrative.
Learn more about Vanessa Carter and her work : www.theAMRnarrative.org
Watch Vanessa Carter's testimonies:
Vanessa Carter's story
Her fight against AMR
Vanessa Carter's fight against AMR
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