Flesh-eating bacteria claims 8-year-old boy's life

Posted at 4:26 PM, Jan 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-27 16:26:38-05

PILOT ROCK, OR (KVEW/CNN) – A mother who lost her child to a rare, devastating bacteria is now trying to spread awareness.

Sara Hebard’s son Liam was a healthy 8-year-old boy who loved his animals, people and Batman.

"He was a bright ray of sunshine everywhere he went,” Hebard said. "He was the kid that stuck up for the other kids against bullying at school."

But everything changed on Jan. 13, when Liam was riding his bike around his family’s property in Pilot Rock, OR, and crashed while riding down a hill.

After a trip to the emergency room and some stitches on his leg, Liam seemed fine.

"It was painful, but nothing that we thought was out of the ordinary," Hebard said.

But the family realized something was wrong a few days later.

"The school called me and said he was crying, that it was hurting," Hebard said.

Sara Hebard’s husband Scott took a look at Liam’s leg.

"He freaked and he said, ‘It looks like he's got gangrene. We're going to the emergency room now,’" Hebard said.

Liam went to a hospital in Pendleton for surgery to remove the infected tissue and then was flown to Portland where doctors fought to save him from the quick-spreading bacteria, known as Necrotizing Fasciitis.

"They kept telling me, ‘We really think we got it this time, we think we're getting ahead of it,’" Hebard said.

But the flesh-eating disease moved faster than they could.

"I'd tell them, ‘If you have to take his leg, take his leg, that's okay – I just want you to save my child,’" Hebard said.

And despite the pain, Hebard said her son stayed positive, and would even FaceTime with the family

Within four days, Liam went through multiple surgeries, during which doctors tried to cut out the bacteria, piece by piece.

By the end of the weekend, the doctors said there wasn’t anything else they could do. Liam’s mother was left without her child after he fought eight days for survival.

"I try not to think about it,” Hebard said. “I take it moment by moment because that's all I can do."

And Hebard is fighting in her own way, to spread awareness.

"He passed for a reason and I think it's because people need to know and I want to be his voice," Hebard said.

Copyright KVEW via CNN. All rights reserved.