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Luckily, it was discovered just in time, as doctors told the Florida resident that if he had waited any longer, there was a chance he could have lost his arm — or worse, according to the GoFundMe page.
“They said in a few hours, this would have gone up my arm into my chest and I wouldn’t have been here,” he told Fox News. “There was no saving me.”
“This is a very rare bacteria that has only [a]ffected 30 people historically in a state of Florida,” the GoFundMe campaign reads, noting that after doctors opened and cleaned his hand and arm’s tissue, they weren’t sure if it’d be salvageable or maintain its original functionality.
Walton immediately underwent surgery and to his relief, doctors were able to save his arm and hand.
“When I woke up, you talk about relief, is when you look over and see your thumb still sitting there,” he told Bay News 9.
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Walton is now home recovering and once he’s healed, looks forward to participating in his next fishing event, which is the Ozona Annual Inshore Fishing Tournament on June 8, according to Bay News 9.
He also hopes that by sharing his story, other fishermen will be more careful while on the water by wearing gloves and cleaning any cuts immediately after they occur, the outlet reports.
In the meantime, his friends and family are asking for donations on GoFundMe to help Walton with medical and recovery expenses, as he is the sole provider for his family and will be out of work for some time.
“Mike has always been a huge part of this fishing community,” the page reads. “Fishing in local water all his life, he would never imagine something like this striking him and his family.”
Since its creation on April 16, the campaign has raised over $19,000 — a gesture that has not gone unnoticed by Walton.
“The way that everyone’s come together, it just floors me,” he told Bay News 9. “It makes you humble.”