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Firefighter Loses Leg to Bacteria, Vows to Get Back to Work

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Ralphie Lettieri lost a leg to flesh eating bacteria, but he hasn’t lost his positive attitude.

“I feel like I’m a  miracle” Lettieri, 26, told ABC News’ New York affiliate WABC.

Lettieri likely contracted the virus when he took a swim in a pond after getting poison ivy. The flesh eating bacteria present in the pond was able to enter his body through the open sores caused by the poison ivy. Once there it proceeded to wreak havoc, causing his organs to shut down and putting him in a coma within days.

Dr. Louis Riina told WABC Lettieri was “as close to death as any man could be” when surgeons at Nassau University Medical Center made the difficult decision to amputate his left leg.

Now, nearly two months later, Ralphie Lettieri is finally ready to return home to his fiance and 3-year-old son. And although Lettieri still has months of physical therapy ahead of him, he hopes that once he gets a new leg, he’ll be able to resume his duties as a volunteer firefighter at the East Patchogue fire department, where he is a lieutenant.

“With all the technology and the prosthetics I can do just what I did before. I can be like anybody else”

To help Ralphie Lettieri with his medical costs you can make a donation:

The Help Ralphie Fund
c/o A. Citarella, Chief
510 Oakdale Avenue
East Patchogue, NY 11772

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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