Monday, August 15, 2016

WARNING: This story contains clear images of the Stevens-Johnson syndrome, which can be disturbing to some people.

When Mandy Smith collects her ​​son, Zachary, from school she knows immediately that something is wrong. Zachary is not doing well. He says he has an itchy poison ivy rash on his feet and on his eyes. She rubs a soothing cream into his feet.

The next day, his whole body is covered in a rash. Then his temperature starts to rise, and he begins to get a fever. Mandy doesn't know what else to do and rushes to the hospital with her son.

The doctors aren't sure what's wrong with Zachary. They presume it's a viral infection but the medication isn't taking effect. His condition is deteriorating by the hour and the rash also keeps getting worse. His eyes are bloodshot, and his lips are beginning to crack open.

A nurse has a terrible suspicion of something, which quickly gets confirmed: Zachary has Stevens-Johnson syndrome, a very rare and dangerous disease that primarily attacks the skin and mucous membranes. It usually begins with symptoms similar to those of flu but can rapidly turn fatal.

The Stevens-Johnson syndrome is usually an allergic reaction to certain drugs. Mandy is certain that the pills she gave Zachary a few days prior to help with a migraine could have triggered the syndrome.

Zachary's skin begins to blister and peel off. 90 percent of his skin is affected by the disease. His lungs are infected. The doctors have to put him into an artificial coma in order to remove his top layer of dead skin. They wrap him up in an artificial skin substitute, so his weakened little body can start forming new skin. No one is sure if he will survive.

Fortunately, Zachary is a very tough and brave little boy. Just one month later, he is out of the coma, and his body begins to recover remarkably quickly. Miraculously, he is not only completely healthy again but he also seems to have not suffered any permanent damage from it. His family is overjoyed.

Sometimes the smallest and most fragile individuals surprise everyone with a strength that no one would ever have believed possible. It is good to know that even seemingly hopeless cases can still turn good in the end.

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