Pretty teen was burnt from the inside out as she suffered near fatal reaction to epilepsy medication
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
A teenage girl’s skin began to burn from the inside out when she suffered a rare one million to one toxic reaction to medication used to treat her epilepsy.
Danika Heron almost died after the new epilepsy medicine she was prescribed triggered an extremely rare illness.
She was struck down by Stevens Johnson Syndrome (SJS) and TENS – Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis Syndrome – which caused severe burns to her organs and skin.
The rare reaction caused burns to over 50% of her body causing her skin to blister, scab and fall off. Her lips swelled so much they burst and she was wrapped from head to toe in bandages.
Danika was diagnosed with Epilepsy when she was 18 and she was prescribed two different medications shortly before her 19th birthday.
It was on her 19th birthday in May this year when Danika from New South Wales, Australia, noticed her eyes and lips were swollen.
She developed a small rash on her chest which quickly spread over her entire body.
She went to a hospital in Sydney where doctors initially misdiagnosed her condition as Herpes and sent her home.
Over a period of four days, Danika’s symptoms got progressively worse and her mum Carmen Heron took her to another hospital in New South Wales.
While there she was diagnosed with foot-and-mouth disease, measles and chicken pox before tests revealed she had SJS and she was rushed to a hospital in Sydney for treatment.
Carmen, 43, said Danika’s condition was so rare and severe it was touch-and-go as to whether she would make it through the night.
She said: “I just cried when I saw her, she was staying at her boyfriend’s at the time and his mum brought her over as Danika works in Sydney.
“She looked like death warmed up, the rash covered her body, her lips were huge and eyes and lips were weeping gunk.
“Over the next few days her condition got worse, she couldn’t breath her neck had swollen so much she couldn’t even drink.
“The rash was spreading and fast, she went through a box or more of tissues, dabbing her lips and eyes of gunk.
“It was heart breaking to see her like that. It came to a point when I thought I was losing her, I was begging her to fight it, willing her to pull though.”
Danika spent almost a month in hospital as her entire body blistered, her mouth fused shut and she lost the top layer of her skin on her face, chest, back and arms.
She struggled to breath and had to be fed through a tube as the condition ravaged her body, burning her from the inside out causing her to vomit skin and blood.
Carmen said: “One day I was visiting her and she was struggling I was yelling ‘you stay with us you fight this, Danika please don’t go.’
“I went and grabbed a nurse, next thing I knew all these doctors were in there they put a camera down her throat and I ran out of the room hysterical.
“My husband Scott stayed in there the whole time but when I walked in he had tears running down his face, he explained Danika had thrown up all this gunk, which was skin and blood but her breathing was better.
“They had given her oxygen, and a tube was put down to feed her through, she was out of it, she was taken up to a Burns unit after that.
“After that day, it was like everything happened in slow motion, we didn’t know if she would make it.
“Danika’s biopsy come back diagnosing her with TENS, they say 1 in a million get SJS and it’s even more rare for TENS, 1 in 3 can die and re-occurrence is at about 40percent.”
There is no known cure for SJS or TENS, once it strikes there is no way to stop it, so Danika was forced to fight for her life as the condition ran its course.
Sufferers of SJS are treated like burns victims and given pain relief and fluid replacement.
Danika spent a total of three-and-a-half weeks in hospital battling the life-threatening condition.
She said much of her time in hospital was a blur but she’s thankful to have made it out the other end and is looking forward to putting it behind her.
She said: “I don’t remember a lot about the first week, I just remember I was in a lot of pain, it felt like I was on fire.
“It scares me as I didn’t realise how bad it was until I looked at the photos.
“After I left hospital my hair started falling out and my finger and toes nails too.
“I have severe dry eyes, struggle to swallow sometimes and my skin is still a bit scarred but I’m hoping that will heal in time.
“I’m just grateful to be here, I’m glad to be home and I’m looking forward to getting back to normal again.
“I think there needs to more done to raise awareness of SJS and TENS, there needs to be more research into the condition and more training in hospitals as it’s so rare it isn’t easy to diagnose.
“I think there should be warnings on medication, labels outlining the symptoms so people know what they to do if they experience any of them.
“It may be rare but I wouldn’t wish this condition on anybody and I think we should do everything we can to prevent people from going through what I went through.”
To find out more about Steven Johnson Syndrome and TENS, visit: http://www.sjsawareness.org.uk/