Toddler almost dies after flesh-eating bacteria attacks her lungs while on holiday in Thailand

When West Australian couple Sharna and Brendan Marshall left from Perth airport to travel to the Thai island of Khao Lak, two hours from Phuket, they expected the toughest thing about their 10-day holiday would be the plane trip with two young kids.

But six weeks later they are still away after their 18-month old nearly lost her life to a flesh eating bacteria that attacked part of her lung leaving her critically ill.

The family of four from Eaton left Perth on June 26 with Kensi, 4, and Amarli, 18-months-old, excited about their holiday. They were travelling to meet friends, to relax, to spend some family time together.

Amarli, 18-months-old became seriously ill. Image via GoFundMe.

Upon arrival, Amarli came down with what they suspected was a cold.


“We had a doctor come and check her in the hotel and he said she was OK.” Mrs Marshall told Colliemail.

“We were still a bit worried so we ended up taking her to Phuket hospital on July 3.”

They never knew what would happen next.

Mrs Marshall told The West Australian that they had diagnosed her with pneumonia, but that they feared something else was going on.

Doctors informed Sharna and Brendan that Amarli had more than a cold and that they had to transfer her to Bangkok where a team of professionals could assess her.

“At that point they couldn't really tell us what was wrong, only that she had very low red blood cells, very low white blood cells, and a very low platelet count, so her blood wasn't clotting the doctors were really concerned."

“She had a team of doctors working on her; a lung doctor, a kidney doctor, a surgeon, a blood doctor, and an infectious disease specialist, so she had a team of people trying to determine what was wrong.”

Sharna Marshall says that Amarli quickly became ill. Via Facebook.

But instead of getting better Amarli deteriorated dramatically.

It turned out to be streptococcus necrotising pneumonia - a flesh-eating bacteria had attacked her lungs. The medical team told the desperate family the only option was to removed part of the 18-month-old's lower left lung to prevent the infection from spreading.

The toddler was diagnosed with acute renal failure as well, meaning she to have haemodialysis for 12 days all up to help fix her kidneys.


Amarli while in hospital in Bangkok. Image via Facebook.

“It was just one thing after another.” Mrs Marshall said.

“The doctors have been amazed at how sick she was, and they were really concerned that we would lose her, and then on the other side of that how quickly she has recovered,”


The Daily Mail reports that doctors were unsure how Amarli contracted the disease but believed she may have caught it on board the plane she travelled to Thailand in, after her parents noticed she had a sniffle on the plane.

While in hospital the little girl had to learn to walk again, but thankfully Amarli is now well on the way to recovery.

"Her lungs are functioning really well for someone who is missing part of a lung, they said there is not going to be any long-term impacts."


Her mother, father and older sister have spent the last six weeks by her side, but say the medical team have been outstanding.

“It has been a little difficult with the language barrier but the doctors have been just phenomenal.

“And the nurses in the ICU, I think we have made some lifelong friends, they have just been magnificent and they have done everything they can to understand us and make sure we understand them.”

"I think we have made some lifelong friends, they have just been magnificent". Via Facebook.

Amarli has now been discharged and has spent the last few days staying in a hotel with her family.

Her jubilant dad announced on Facebook that the family had now, finally, booked flights home for Thursday.

Brendan Marshall and his daughter. Via Facebook.

“Flights have been booked, were really coming home now…Doesn't seem real, just a can't believe we are finally coming home...

YAY YAY YAY YAY YAY YAY” Mr Marshall wrote on Facebook.

Friends of the family have started an online fundraiser to help the family get back on their feet.