Professional dancer loses legs after contracting meningococcal meningitis infection

Rafael Castellano described his experience to News 6

A professional dancer had his legs amputated after he contracted meningococcal meningitis, and he's now encouraging others to get vaccinated before it's too late.

ORLANDO, Fla. – A professional dancer in Orlando is home from the hospital following several months battling a meningitis infection.

Before 32-year-old Rafael Castellano fell ill, he said he didn’t know much about the illness.

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Following a medically induced coma, he said he didn’t have much memory of how he ended up there.

“Every three days, I’d ask the same question, the same thing, asking what happened, and it took time to understand what was going on,” Castellano told News 6.

For months, he said there was a lot of uncertainty. Doctors even told his mother that he’d likely not survive.

“This bacteria that’s in your body (is) to the point where your body becomes like a poison to itself,” Castellano said.

Though his entire life and career was surrounded by dancing, Castellano said he’s come to terms with it.

While in the hospital, Castellano said he started to see TV coverage about other viral disease outbreaks, including monkeypox.

“That’s what helps you realize vaccines, people my age and even younger because I’m 32 years old, (are taken) for granted,” Castellano.

He said he underwent eight surgeries over the summer.

“If I would have known about it prior to all of it, maybe my stories would be completely different. It’s not that I’m regretting things. It’s more like the awareness,” Castellano said.

The CDC said people can find a meningococcal vaccine by contacting their doctor’s office, pharmacy, community health center or local health department.

Castellano’s family has set up this Gofundme for anyone who would like to help as his recovery continues.

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About the Author:

Troy graduated from California State University Northridge with a Bachelor's Degree in Communication. He has reported on Mexican drug cartel violence on the El Paso/ Juarez border, nuclear testing facilities at the Idaho National Laboratory and severe Winter weather in Michigan.