STONY BROOK, NY—Like his nearly perfect wrestling record, 16-year-old Nicholas Maureillo is beating the odds, turning the corner on an extremely rare and deadly combination of both MRSA, an aggressive staph infection, and Lemierre's disease, a very serious and rare throat infection that can cause death.
"We didn't want to tell him that, you know, 'listen you are fighting for life now,'" said Nicholas Maureillo Sr. He is still on a ventilator but able to talk to his parents.
Nick likely contracted MRSA through cuts on his hands sustained in a series of competitive wrestling matches last month.
For over a week the drug-resistant staph infection went undiagnosed.
"He was complaining of pains in his neck, being a wrestler we just assumed it was the course of him wrestling 18 matches over 8 days," Maureillo Sr. said at an afternoon news conference at Stony Brook University Medical Center. "We just thought it was just wear and tear, we thought we would have to rest him we took him to a chiropractor his regular doctor."
The infection, however, ended up spreading to Nick's liver, kidneys, and lungs.
"His heart rate was going through the roof, he was laying in bed breathing at a ridiculous rate." said Maureillo Sr.
The MRSA infection seeded in his jugular vein and progressed to Lemierre's syndrome and pneunomia.
"To sit there and watch your healthy 16-year-old son laying in a bed with tubes coming out of him, it was awful."
"Over the course of the weekend we started having cultures that were coming out to be negative and that was a reassuring sign that antibiotics were indeed working," said Dr. Rahul Panesar, Pediatric Intensive Care Specialist at the University Medical Center.
The next two days are critical -- if Nick can continue to put up negative cultures he'll be cleared of the acute infection, but he will still need weeks of antibiotics.
Doctor Panesar credits Nick's amazing ability to fight these infections to his excellent physical condition.
"While he's laying in bed and coming out of sedation, he's wondering if he is going to ready for Saturday," said his father smiling for the first time during twenty minute news conference.