4 amputations after strep: ‘Now it’s only positives’

Kevin Breen, Julie Breen
Kevin and Julie Breen. (May 18, 2017)


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Alto man who lost parts of all four limbs after contracting strep throat was on the national TV show ‘The Doctors’ on Thursday.

Since 24 Hour News 8 first reported on Kevin Breen in March, he has had four successful amputation surgeries and expects to be able to walk again next month.

“Now it’s only positives,” he said.

But in fact, he and his wife Julie Breen have had a positive attitude from the beginning, even before they knew the name of the mystery illness that nearly killed him. As they endured multiple tests, long hospital stays and learning that he would lose his hands and feet, the two were smiling.

“I’m way more interested in getting me up and functional than I am, ‘Aw man, this sucks.’ I got no legs. I can’t get up and get a pop from the fridge or whatever the case may be. I don’t really look at that. I would be depressed if I did that. I don’t want to be depressed,” Kevin Breen said as he and his wife laughed.

Breen contracted a strong strain of strep that traveled to his stomach. It caused his organs to begin to shut down. In an effort to save those organs, his body redirected blood flow and left the flesh of his hands and feet to die. So they had to be amputated.

People all over the world connected to the strange story and the optimistic duo.

“You guys did this story and it was all of a sudden, the next day … my phone was blowing up,” Julie Breen said.

“It’s just crazy the outpouring of interest in it,” Kevin Breen said.

It went viral.

“Blew up,” Kevin Breen said.

It was covered by CNN, The Today Show, NBC Nightly News, newspapers, European news media, daytime TV shows.

“I don’t know if surprised would be the right word,” Kevin Breen said of his reaction. “I guess just overwhelmed.”

So far, people have donated more than $230,000 to the Breens’ GoFundMe account to help cover medical costs. Some shared their stories of loss in messages and videos.

Kevin Breen is now using a power wheelchair. The next step is prosthetics. If all goes well, he’ll have new legs next month and new hands in July.

“We’re very excited,” his 4-year-old daughter Bella said.