In December of 2016, a 27-year-old woman from Tennessee became ill. Shelby Smith was fit, active and she hadn’t been sick in years. One morning, after starting her work shift at a boutique, she realized she didn’t feel well. Shelby was shivering and shaking, and she had a fever of 103 degrees. She was suffering from strep throat.
Shelby could not afford health insurance, so she wasn’t able to see a doctor to treat her virus. She decided to ride it out, assuming she would eventually get better. But instead of getting better, Shelby’s condition only worsened.
When Shelby’s nose turned blue, her boyfriend rushed her to the hospital. Doctors told Shelby that her heart, lungs and brain were failing. She told Inside Edition, “I was as close to death as you could be without dying.”
Because Shelby’s strep throat went untreated, it turned into a severe sepsis infection. Her hands, fingers and toes turned completely black. Shelby said of the infection, “It looked like I was turning into a witch.”
Shelby’s doctors were forced to take extreme measures in order to save her life. They amputated her fingers on her right hand and one finger on her left hand. They also amputated two of the toes on her left foot.
And it all started with strep throat.
Shelby is now learning to live her life and go about her daily activities without the use of her fingers. Despite her suffering, Shelby says she is happy to be alive. “Every day I see this is a reminder that I have a second chance at life.”