Condition upgraded for student wrestler with MRSA

February 9, 2011 12:42:29 PM PST
A top-ranked high school wrestler on Long Island has contracted a potentially deadly infection.

"Hell. Nothing less than hell. To sit there and watch your healthy 16-year-old son lying in bed with uh, tubes in him. It was awful," said Nick Mauriello, Sr., Nick Jr.'s father.

For nine days, Nick Mauriello has been trying to hold it together.

His pride and joy, Nick Jr., has been fighting for life.

He has machines helping him to breathe.

Nick is a star on Hauppauge High School's varsity wrestling team.

He first complained of neck pain two weeks ago.

Doctors first thought he'd pulled a muscle, but his condition was much, much worse.

"His heart rate was going through the roof he was breathing at a ridiculous rate," Mauriello said.

When Nick arrived at Stony Brook Children's Hospital, doctors diagnosed him with MRSA, an aggressive, drug-resistant bacteria that had gotten into his bloodstream.

It was attacking his liver, kidneys, and lungs.

"Nick is probably one of the healthiest patients we'll ever see. It's a 16-year-old and he's an athlete," said Dr. Rahul Panesar, of Stony Brook Children's Hospital.

Anyone can catch MRSA.

In fact, experts say 30% of the population carries the potentially deadly bacteria, which are usually transmitted harmlessly through skin to skin contact.

They are especially common in close quarters, like a wrestling ring.

An infection can start if the bacteria gets into an open cut.

In Nick's case, he got a scrape on his wrist, during a wrestling match.

"It comes down to basic hand hygiene and body hygiene and addressing wounds when they happen. This could extend to any contact sport, boxing, football, you name it," Dr. Panesar said.

Hauppauge school leaders say they've doubled down on their standards for safe hygiene.

Nick's teammates launched a website to help spread the word about Nick's condition.

Doctors say he is improving, but he still has a long way to go.

"Pound for pound he's the toughest kid, he's a warrior and it's showing now he's fighting for his life," Mauriello said.

Nick's condition was upgraded on Wednesday to serious condition.

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