Nine year old suffers one-in-a-million, potentially fatal, skin disease that started out like the flu, caused by common medication.
Warning: This article contains images that readers may find distressing
The New Zealand girl is battling Stevens Johnson Syndrome, a painful disease affecting the skin which kills one in 10 people affected by it.
It’s caused by taking one of at least 200 medications including common paracetamol and penicillin and for Valencia, it developed from flu-like symptoms to a rash and blisters and sores on her face and in her mouth.
On the first day of August, her mother, Ene Mikaere picked her up from school because she didn’t feel well, the Rotorua Daily Post reported.
Two days later she was given medication for a viral chest infection. By Friday she was so concerned she took Valencia to the Rotorua Hospital emergency department.
While waiting, she received antibiotics – it was thought she had chicken pox. Then it got worse.
She soon had lesions covering her body, dry, yellow, pus-covered lip and she was vomiting and having seizures, The Rotorua Daily Post reported.
‘Her lips were starting to dry out, they started going yellow, they looked infected and swollen and there was a pussy stream in them, her eyes started going red and blood shot,’ her mother said.
‘It just broke my heart … yeah I thought she was going to die. I was thinking that but I was trying not to.’
Valencia still requires oxygen at all times to breath, is fed through a tube and has a catheter.
She still has a chance of infection. Heavily sedated and on antibiotics, she’s constantly watched by doctors.
It’s not clear how long it will be until she has recovered.
To make matters worse, her father’s job was recently made redundant and her mother has used up all of her sick leave and holidays to be with her in hospital.
The family – Valencia has four siblings – had move out of their rental home because it was being sold.
Despite the hardships the family is facing, there is some good news.
Their community has rallied around them, with Mrs Mikaere’s workplace, a supermarket, providing food and the Salvation Army, support.
There’s also a fundraising day being held at Valencia’s primary school to help out the family, and a Go Fund Me page has raised her family almost $10,000.
The family want to share Valencia’s story to help spread the word of what the disease can do in such a short time.
Stevens-Johnson syndrome is a rare, serious disorder of your skin and mucous membranes. It’s usually a reaction to a medication or an infection. Often, Stevens-Johnson syndrome begins with flu-like symptoms, followed by a painful red or purplish rash that spreads and blisters. Then the top layer of the affected skin dies and sheds.
Stevens-Johnson syndrome is a medical emergency that usually requires hospitalization. Treatment focuses on eliminating the underlying cause, controlling symptoms and minimizing complications.
Recovery after Stevens-Johnson syndrome can take weeks to months, depending on the severity of your condition. If it was caused by a medication, you’ll need to permanently avoid that drug and others closely related to it.
Stevens-Johnson syndrome symptoms include:
•A red or purple skin rash that spreads within hours to days
•Blisters on your skin and the mucous membranes of your mouth, nose, eyes and genitals
•Shedding of your skin
If you have Stevens-Johnson syndrome, several days before the rash develops you may experience:
•Sore mouth and throat
Warning: This article contains images below that readers may find distressing.
We wish Valencia lots of strength and hope she makes a full recovery very soon.
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