POSTED: Saturday, May 19, 2012 - 9:30am
UPDATED: Saturday, May 19, 2012 - 9:34am
NBC NATIOANL NEWS — While on vacation on Florida's east coast in 2001, John Roche made an unforgettable catch. He caught a bacterium called Vibrio vulnificus.
It normally lives in warm seawater and is in the same family as those that cause cholera. A day later after fishing the 60 year old's calf began to burn. The infection took over. Roche entered a 17 day coma. His organs began to shut down. Eventually, doctors amputated his right leg.
He woke up and got to go home two months later.
And now he's hoping for the recovery of Aimee Copeland, 24, a Georgia graduate student who contracted a similar disease through an open gash suffered in a zip line accident.
Doctors were forced to remove one of her legs and part of her abdomen.
"You'll come through and it will make you a stronger person no doubt," said Roche, a survivor.
"The flesh-eating disease" is technically necrotizing fasciitis and can be caused by several kinds of bacteria.
The bacteria that infected Aimee Copeland is called Aeromonoas hydrophila and can be found in warm, brackish waters.