Marie-Marthe Becigneul couldn't believe her bad luck when flesh-eating disease ravaged her legs in June 19, 2006. She endured six operations, with surgeons slicing away dead and infected tissue. After a stint at a rehabilitation hospital, she was relieved to finally walk again.

Months later, in the fall, she went to the Hôtel-Dieu Hospital in Sherbrooke, where she underwent skin grafts to repair the surgical scars left from flesh-eating disease.

That's when her health took a dramatic turn for the worse.

In October she fell ill, "as if I had been hit by a Mack truck." Simple, everyday acts such as washing her hair left her exhausted. Her back ached.

So Ms. Becigneul went to Fleurimont Hospital in Sherbrooke, where blood tests were done.

The moment she returned to her Orford home in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, the hospital called. The voice on the other end of the phone said she should return immediately. But Ms. Becigneul, who was tired and in pain, said she would wait a few hours for her husband to come home.

When he did, she could not get off the couch. She was paralyzed from the waist down.

"An ambulance got me to the hospital and they took many tests," said Ms. Becigneul, now 48. "The next day an emergency surgery was performed as the bacterium in my blood had caused an abscess on my spinal cord."

Surgeons worked to remove the abscess and the operation was a success. But the abscess had rendered her a paraplegic. The cause of the abscess, she was told, was methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Danielle St-Louis, director of quality and innovation for the Sherbrooke University Hospital Centre, which comprises the hospitals of Fleurimont and Hôtel-Dieu, said she could not comment on a specific case due to patient confidentiality.

However, she said the hospital centre isolates patients with MRSA and has a specific unit devoted to them.

"It's an ongoing battle because we can never attain a zero [infection] level in a hospital," Ms. St-Louis said through interpreter Lynn Beattie, the institution's liaison nurse for the English community.

However, Ms. St-Louis stressed the hospital centre's infection-control measures, which include MRSA screening for patients coming from other hospitals or nursing homes, has resulted in a dramatic decrease in cases. The hospital had 245 cases of MRSA in 2003-04, but just 84 in 2006-07.

For Ms. Becigneul, those figures are cold comfort. The paralysis has left her unable to work. She spends as much as $700 a month on drugs to relieve the pain, anxiety and depression. She has written Pierre Reid, Liberal member of the National Assembly for Orford, asking that there be some compensation for those who are injured by hospital infections.

"What has happened to me is happening more and more to others," she wrote in July. "I do believe that we need financial help we are not getting. I went to the hospital to be taken care of and I came out worse off than when I went in."