Seffner teen survives MRSA, thrives at baseball - FOX 13 News

Seffner teen survives MRSA, thrives at baseball

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SEFFNER (FOX 13) -

On the mound, Ben Welch looks like a physically fit prep athlete. But under his uniform are scars from an childhood nightmare.

When he was 9 years old, he contracted Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, also known as MRSA. It's an antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can spread quickly and be lethal.

MRSA took hold in Ben's legs and left him with a 20 percent chance of surviving.

"You don't know if you are going to live," Welch said. "You don't know if they are going to cut your leg off, the next surgery, the next day. You don't know when you're getting out of the hospital."

It was a traumatizing time for Ben and his family.

"It blew a hole in his leg and tissues that attaches to the bone up the side of his leg," said Harold Welch, Ben's father. "He had, a nine -year old, about the size of a tennis ball was gone."

Ben survived eight surgeries and 15 months in a wheelchair. Doctors saved his life and his legs.

It was up to Ben to salvage a sports career. He returned to soccer just three months out of the wheelchair, but quickly realized he didn't have his old speed to compete. So he decided to take a swing at baseball.

"I had a great coach on my Little League team," Ben said. "They're like, you can't really run down first base, that's great, we'll play you."

His perseverance and passion for sports earned Ben a spot on Strawberry Crest's Varsity team. His coach knew of his limitations, but isn't surprised by Ben's ability to compete.

"Mentally no," said Eric Beattie, Strawberry Crest's head baseball coach. "He's a soldier man. He's a trooper."

Baseball is actually the perfect sport for Ben, because when he takes to the mound, he has no fear.

"I can get on that mound with a 3-2 count and the bases loaded and I won't be flustered," Ben said. "I know that I've been through bigger things than this."

He's already come a long way and isn't about to stop. Colleges have interest.

Ben's interest is sharing his survival story .

"I made it because of hard work," he said. "My passion, my love for the game, going after practice to work on things. When everyone else is playing Xbox and doing other things and you're doing things, working as hard as you can to get as good as you can get."

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