Ballroom dancer loses legs after contracting meningitis

A Florida professional dancer has lost both legs and narrowly escaped death after contracting severe meningitis.

Rafael Castellano, 32, spent nearly three months in hospital where doctors had placed him in a medically induced coma as they struggled to save his life.

After coming out of the coma, Castellano said he couldn’t remember what happened to him.

“Every three days I asked the same question, the same thing, asking what happened and it took time to understand what was going on,” Castellano told News 6 after his recent hospital discharge.

Castellano’s harrowing ordeal began June 1 when the dance teacher was taken to AdventHealth Hospital in Orlando, where he was diagnosed with meningococcal meningitis – a disease he said he knew little about before contracting it, the reported Transmitter WESH2.

Rafael Castellano is pictured in hospital after waking from a medically induced coma resulting from a life-threatening meningitis infection.
Rafael Castellano is pictured in hospital after waking from a medically induced coma resulting from a life-threatening meningitis infection.
GoFundMe

Meningococcal meningitis is a rare but serious bacterial infection transmitted through close contact with an infected person’s saliva, causing the lining of the brain and spinal cord to swell, often resulting in death.

Symptoms of the life-threatening disease include fever, headache, neck stiffness, vomiting, and sensitivity to light, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Castellano said while he was clinging to life, his family were told to prepare for the worst.

“These bacteria that are in your body are so advanced that your body becomes like a poison to itself,” Castellano said.

Castellano, left, is a professional ballroom dancer and dance teacher from Orlando.
Castellano, left, is a professional ballroom dancer and dance teacher from Orlando.
Facebook / Rafael Castellano
On June 1, Castellano was hospitalized with a severe case of meningococcal meningitis.
On June 1, Castellano was hospitalized with a severe case of meningococcal meningitis.
Facebook / Rafael Castellano

Castellano underwent eight surgeries over the summer and both legs were amputated below the knee.

But he said he’s grateful to be alive – and determined to walk and dance again with the help of prosthetics.

“I feel like this is a miracle, that’s the only way to explain it,” he said. “And now I have the drive to keep fighting and to show everyone what I’m capable of.”

Castellano was discharged from hospital in late August and admitted to an inpatient physical therapy facility to begin his long recovery.

Castellano underwent eight surgeries over the course of nearly three months.
Castellano underwent eight surgeries over the course of nearly three months.
GoFundMe
Doctors had to amputate both of the dancer's legs below the knee to save his life.
Doctors had to amputate both of the dancer’s legs below the knee to save his life.
Facebook / Rafael Castellano

As he waits for his wounds from the surgeries to heal, Castellano has shared his story to raise awareness of the rare infection that almost ended his life – and the vaccine being developed to protect the public from it .

“If I had known beforehand, maybe my story would be very different. It’s not that I have regrets. It’s more awareness,” Castellano said.

The dancer doesn’t have health insurance and has raised money to help meet his growing medical expenses through a GoFundMe campaign that has raised more than $56,000 so far.

https://nypost.com/2022/09/14/ballroom-dancer-loses-legs-after-contracting-meningitis/ Ballroom dancer loses legs after contracting meningitis

JACLYN DIAZ

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