In July 2019, Kemit-Amon Lewis, 36, went into septic shock in St. Croix on the US Virgin Islands. Broward Health International was contacted by one of the local hospitals for a higher level of care. He was transported via air ambulance to the Level 1 trauma center at Broward Health Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
“He was critically ill, and we had to resuscitate him,” said Maxine Hamilton, MD, medical director of Broward Health International. “He had multi-organ failure specifically kidney and respiratory failure and septic shock.”
Lewis spent weeks in an induced coma in the cardiovascular intensive care unit. “Throughout that time, he didn’t look like hewas going to make it,” said Dr. Hamilton. “But we persevered and under the care of our multidisciplinary specialists, we were able to get him extubated, off the ventilator and off dialysis. Unfortunately, he developed gangrene in his extremities due to sepsis and the medication and to prevent further infection we had to consider amputation of his limbs.”
“They [Broward Health] did everything to keep me alive,” recalls Lewis. “I learned I was going to lose my right hand, right foot and some left fingers and toes.” It was a sobering reality for Lewis.
With a career in marine science, Lewis worked throughout the Caribbean and Pacific. He lived in the water and worked on coral reef restoration. He also was a dance instructor and loved to play tennis. “Initially there were a couple of difficult days and loss of the activities I am most passionate about,” said Lewis. “I had to forcefully change my mind to make things work and believe I could get back to the things I love.”
Lewis would spend over 40 days at Broward Health Medical Center. He was then transferred to Broward Health Inpatient Rehabilitation Institute at Broward Health North for extensive rehabilitation. During this time, he relearned daily activities including learning how to dress himself without hands and getting in and out of a motorized wheelchair.
In 2020, Lewis would fit for prosthetic limbs and continued his rehabilitation as he began to walk and dance again. In the summer he picked up a tennis racket for the first time in over a year. He has reached many milestones including living independently and starting to drive again.
“I enjoy every single day that I am alive. I have been given this second chance and it’s important for me to continue to strive for a cool life finish,” said Lewis.
“I am extremely proud of what we did with Kemit, said Dr. Hamilton. “ He has literally walked out of here with his kidneys not being on dialysis, his heart with absolutely no damage and his lungs fully functioning. It’s just fantastic”