By Linda Zimnick
It began with the prick of a thorn. Within a few days, the 35-year-old man from South India had an abscess swelling from the fleshy mound on his right palm at the base of his thumb, a raging fever, was exceptionally drowsy, and was having difficulty breathing. In the local emergency room, the physician on call placed a tube into his windpipe to help him breathe easier, started him on an antibiotic, and admitted him to the hospital. By day 12 of his hospital stay, his kidneys began to fail. His antibiotic was changed and he was placed on a dialysis machine to remove toxins from his blood while his kidneys recovered. Nearly eight weeks after entering the hospital, he was finally sent home with instructions to continue with the blood-cleansing outpatient kidney dialysis treatments, respiratory therapy, and directions to help him care for the tube that remained in his windpipe.