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Woman Has Several Fingers, Toes Amputated After Rare Strep Throat Infection

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KNOXVILLE, Tennessee  --  What started out as a sore throat almost cost a Tennessee woman her life.

"There was a pretty big chance I could have died," said Shelby Smith after having several fingers and toes amputated following a severe case of strep throat, according to CNN's Kelly Reinke.

"I started shaking and convulsing and my lips started turning blue and my eyes were rolling in the back of my head," said Smith. "Little did I know, I was going into septic shock."

Smith's throat began closing, her organs failed, and she was in a medically induced coma for a week.

"Still in my mind I don't think I was as sick as I really was," she said.

That is, until she woke up to several of her fingers and toes having turned black and blue.

"It looked like something out of a horror movie," she said.

She lost circulation in most of her fingers, resulting in the loss of one index finger on her left hand, several on her right, and two toes on her left foot.

"These cases are rare, few hundred cases a year in the U.S.," said infectious disease specialist Jeffry King, one of Smith's doctors.

King said Smith had a very aggressive form of the strep throat bacteria.

"I'd say this is one of the most life-threatening illnesses that we see as far as a bacterial infection."

Doctors say this infection is incredibly hard to detect.

Smith's fiance Caleb Weinzierl said, "We just didn't know what was going on and what she was being attacked by." He said this was the worst part.

In the end, it was the medicine that was redirecting blood-flow to Smith's organs, killing circulation in her hands and toes.

Smith and Weinzierl agree it was a challenging experience to go through, but after seeing a similar story about a man in Michigan who needs a quadruple amputation, Smith says she is lucky.

"Either buckle under the pressure, or I can pick myself up and make a new normal."

Smith did not go to a doctor when she first experienced her sore throat symptoms. Doctors say no matter now non-severe symptoms may be, it is still always a good idea to get them checked.

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