FERNDALE, Wash. (Metro) -- Twelve-year-old Jake Finkbonner of Washington state knows he's lucky and blessed to have survived a deadly flesh-eating bacteria.
Doctors call it a miracle, and now the Vatican agrees.
KCPQ-TV reports Pope Benedict the 16th has invited Jake and his family to the Vatican as guests of honor for a special ceremony honoring Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, whom the family prayed to during the ordeal.
Jake was just five years old in 2006 when he fell and bumped his mouth against the base of a basketball hoop.
Strep bacteria that causes the flesh-eating disease got into the open wound on Jake's mouth, invading his chest, neck and mouth in just days.
The disease required 22 surgeries in less than three months.
He still has more reconstructive surgeries ahead, but he's grateful for the support of his doctors and family.