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Fungal Infection To Blame For Death Of Edmond Soldier

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"They told me the infection was in control. But day by day, they had to cut tissues, muscle," said Thomas Wickliff, James Wickliff's father. "They told me the infection was in control. But day by day, they had to cut tissues, muscle," said Thomas Wickliff, James Wickliff's father.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

An Edmond soldier dies following an IED explosion in Afghanistan, but his father says the blast is not what killed him. He says it's what happened after his son got medical treatment that ended his life.

Edmond Santa Fe graduate James Wickliff returned home from combat with non-life threatening injuries, but a fungus took over his body, and killed him.

News 9 is told military doctors have been fighting to defeat a fungal infection, nearly undetectable at first, because affected areas appear healthy.

"They told me the infection was in control. But day by day, they had to cut tissues, muscle," said Thomas Wickliff.   

Wickliff says military doctors told him his son had at least three types of fungi, two of which are very common. The fungi exist in the soil in southern Afghan provinces and after an explosion, it's blown deep into blast wounds. The fungus often leads to amputations to remove the diseased areas.

9/22/2013 Related Story: Edmond Soldier Dies From Injuries Sustained In Afghanistan IED Blast

"But they can't save his life, you know, because they don't have nothing to kill the fungus," said Wickliff. "And that's a problem."

James Wickliff, 22, was born in Venezuela and moved to Oklahoma with his father seven years ago before joining.

Because of his grandfather, his dream was to serve in the American military. After he was injured in the explosion on Aug. 12, he was taken to an Afghan hospital, before going to Germany and then eventually to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. That's where he died this past Friday.

"I saw my son, day by day in 40 days, [doctors] continuing [to] cut something, lose his life, beat by beat," said Wickliff.

Doctors removed the entire lower half of James' body in an attempt to save his life.

"Three days before he died, I promised him he would be better," said Wickliff. "But, three days before he died, I have to go to him and I have to tell him, I lied, because I can't do anything. The doctors they can't do anything, and you know, he understood and I start to pray with him. I tell him, you have to find God, because we can't do anything."

"He made with his eyes and with his mouth, he make the signal to let me know, he understands. He tells me ‘Don't worry about it.' I tell him ‘Forgive me, because I can't save your life.'"

The family is told there are at least four other cases like James at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. 

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