What appeared to be an ordinary cold led a mother-of-six to undergo a life-saving quadruple amputation operation.
In mid-January, Tiffany King, 38, from Springville, Utah, woke up in the middle of the night, unable to breathe. Her fiancé, Moale Fonohema, 37, rushed her to the clinic, but her condition was so severe an ambulance immediately took her to a hospital in Provo.
She was diagnosed with pneumonia, and then sepsis, before she slipped into a coma. Doctors estimated the dental lab technician only had 15% chance of survival.
“She developed bacterial and viral pneumonia,” Tiffany’s niece, Rielly Fonohema, 19, told PEOPLE, “and her liver and kidneys started failing. Then at the end of January, she got sepsis — a deadly blood infection — and her chance of living was lowered to 15%. Doctors said that we should start making (funeral) arrangements.”
“It was scary,” he added, “but I knew that she could get through it. She’s a tough person and I wasn’t about to give up on her. To be honest, we have wedding plans and I knew that we both wanted more than anything to see them happen.”
Doctors had to give King on Levophed, a drug that took the blood flow away from her limbs and distributed it to her major organs to save her life. However, it led to a significant side-effect.
When King woke up, she was told due to her treatment, she would need to have her arms and legs amputated.
While others would be horrified by the news, King took the news better than most.
Knowing she still has a lot to live for, King has stayed strong for herself and her family.
“When he told me that the lack of blood flow to my arms and legs meant that a quadruple amputation was necessary in order for me to live, I didn’t hesitate to say, ‘Let’s do it,’” she said.
“I’ve always been a positive person, so I’m trying to stay that way,” King explained. “Of course, there are days when I ask, ‘God, why did this happen to me?’ But I’m so thankful to be alive and to have a future with my family.”
King will stay in the hospital for the next month before she starts therapy.
“I’m going to work hard,” she said. “I’m going to work hard, because I have a family I need to get back to.”
Once King recovers, she hopes to be able to get prosthetics, despite its extravagant costs. Since her insurance won't cover her prosthetics or renovations to her home (to accommodate King's new disability), her family has set up a GoFundMe page to raise the necessary $300,000.
“If I can get enough to pay for those prosthetics, I’m going to work very hard every single day so that I can walk again, and the first thing I want to do is walk down the aisle to marry Moe. That’s my biggest dream now, and I’d love for it to come true this fall,” King said.
“With arms and legs or without them, I’m here for her — I love her. She was worried how I’d feel about her after the amputation, but nothing has changed. ‘You’re my rock,’ I told her. ‘And I’ll be your hands and feet,’“ Fonohema added.