Little kids get cuts and scrapes all the time- falling off your bike is like a right of passage as a child. In the vast majority of occasions, the injuries from these incidences are minor and require nothing more than a band-aid. Rarely, however, they can escalate. In the case of one little boy, his fall resulted in a life-altering double leg amputation due to a staph infection.

In October 2020, Juliana and Brian Baumkirchner of Arizona took their three-year-old son, Beauden, on a family vacation to San Diego. Nearly two months later, the toddler is finally going home after spending weeks in intensive care.

 Juliana and Brian Baumkirchner family

Little Beauden had been riding his bicycle when he fell off and skinned his knee. Like any parents, the Baumkirchners didn’t think much of the incident. They cleaned the cut, bandaged it up, and assumed their son would be just fine. “He’s done that many, many times as any three-year-old boy will do.” Brian Baumkirchner said [1].

Later that evening, Beauden began to feel sleepy. By the next day, he was feverish and his knee was swollen. His parents took him to Rady’s Children’s Hospital, where doctors and nurses were quick to assess him. Within hours, the little boy was fighting for his life.

The ICU doctor said that his labs, when he came in, were of concern, for sure. But the lab work at 1 p.m., just three hours later, his whole body was shutting down,” his father said. “They thought they were going to lose him, for sure, that night.” [1]

The cause of little Beauden’s rapid deterioration was a “vicious” staph infection. The toddler’s skinned knee acted as a portal for the toxin-laced bacteria, which began attacking his body. Despite it being what doctors called a “garden-variety” staph, it caused a bacterial infection in Beauden similar to toxic shock syndrome.

Beauden’s body had entered a state of shock. It shut down blood flow to his arms and legs in order to maintain blood flow to the brain. For this reason, the little boy suffered no neurological damage, said his mother [2].

Sadly, doctors were not able to save other parts of Beauden’s body. They tried to get blood circulating to his legs again but were unsuccessful. As a result, doctors had to proceed with a leg amputation from above the knees.

Since October 5th, the boy has undergone at least eighteen surgeries related to the leg amputation and has been under anesthesia countless times. “It’s every parent’s worst nightmare when you’re completely helpless,” said Brian [2]. Beauden’s doctor, John Bradley, praised his parents for seeking medical attention as soon as they realized something was wrong. He urges all parents to do the same the minute they realize there is a problem.

Staph infections are a result of staphylococcus bacteria. This is a very common germ that is present on the skin or in the nose of even healthy people. In most cases, these bacteria don’t cause any problems. At most, they may cause a relatively minor skin infection.

Staph infections can, however, become deadly if the bacteria enter your bloodstream, joints, bones, lungs, or heart. Signs and symptoms of staph infections can vary widely, and may include:

This is the most common type of staph infection when a pocket of pus develops in a hair follicle or oil gland. The skin over the infected area usually becomes red and swollen.
If a boil breaks open, it will likely drain pus. They occur most often under the arms or around the groin or buttocks.

This is a contagious, often painful rash. Impetigo usually causes large blisters that may ooze fluid and develop a honey-colored crust.

This is an infection of the deeper layers of skin. It causes skin redness and swelling on the surface of your skin. You may also develop sores or areas of oozing discharge.

When a staph infection produces toxins, it may lead to staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome. This condition affects mostly babies and children and features a fever, a rash, and sometimes blisters. When the blisters break, the top layer of skin comes off — leaving a red, raw surface that looks like a burn [3].

Staph infections can also cause bacteremia, which is an infection in the bloodstream. This can lead to sepsis and be fatal. It can also result in bone infections, food poisoning, pneumonia, toxic shock syndrome, or endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart chambers and valves [4].

In Beauden’s case, the bacteria that infected him looked like MSSA, which is usually very easy to treat. According to Bradley, further analysis showed that it was laced with a toxin. The bacteria, he said, could have picked it up by interacting with a virus or another bacteria.

The doctors are currently looking for other similar cases to get a clearer understanding of Beauden’s infection and subsequent double-leg amputation.

Beauden’s uncle set up a GoFundMe page to help fund the toddler’s medical expenses. The page has now raised nearly 190 thousand dollars. Editor’s Note 10/06/2023: The GoFundMe page has since been taken down and Beauden is doing well!

This terrible staph infection has changed Beauden’s life forever, but his family is grateful that their son is still alive. His mother Juliana has praised Rady Children’s Hospital, thanking them for saving their son’s life. As for the support the family has received, she said: “As terrible of a year as 2020 has been … humanity has been the best in our eyes.” [2].


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