St. Petersburg man says flesh-eating disease almost killed him, but he survived to guide others

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Alvin Lewis writes songs about acceptance and paints pictures of faith and resurrection, after his own life and death battle with the flesh eating bacteria, Necrotizing Fasciitis.

"I was climbing into the cab of a truck after it started raining," said Lewis. "I was rushing to get in and I slipped on the metal steps. When I slipped I hit my shin. I didn't know a two inch cut was going to change my life forever."

Hospitalized within 48 hours, the antibiotic resistant bacteria had his organs shutting down. His doctor told him, "The only way we can save your life is to amputate your leg. If you don't amputate your leg you'll be dead in 24 hours." 

Fighting for life even after the amputation, Alvin almost gave up hope. He says the Holy Spirit and a human voice saved him.

"I simply told Alvin when I walked in, the limbs don't make the person. The spirit makes the person," said Sean Fitzgibbons.

Fitzgibbons, sent to speak to Alvin on behalf of St. Petersburg Limb and Brace, helped lift Alvin's weight with a prosthetic limb, and elevated his spirit with a glance into his possible future.

"I explained I had lost my limb at 3, had never been babied," said Fitzgibbons. "My parents made me do everything. And now this is the field I chose to work in and I'm a national champion surfer. I kayak. I play soccer, football and baseball."

"He said the only way you're going to be able to do anything else in life is if you accept what's happening to you now and you accept it's not the end but it's the beginning," Lewis said.

Now Alvin pays it forward by counseling pre and post amputees at local hospitals.

"Sean inspired me to inspire other people," said Lewis.

And that inspiration is often passed on through prayer and music.

The CDC says there's no rise in annual cases of the flesh eating disease.

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