A nine-year-old girl had such severe allergic reaction that stripped 65 percent of her skin leaving her looking as if she’d been burned alive. It only took a day to ravage the young girl’s body.
Phoenix Richey was covered in blisters, her skin swollen, and worst her life in danger as she was rushed to the hospital. The girl had contracted a rare but serious disorder known as Stevens-Johnson syndrome that affects the skin, mucous membranes, and eyes.
The disease is often caused by an adverse reaction to medication, but in Phoenix case, the exact cause can not be fully established. Medics think it is likely caused by an infection.
The girl’s mother, Nicole, 36, from Decatur, Alabama recalled the ordeal they went through. She said so bad was the girl’s condition that at one point they were just taking things hour by hour. The mom said: “Blisters were popping up all over Phoenix’s body, and we had no idea if she’d survive.”
Nicole said her daughter just woke up one day with what appeared to be a sore throat. They took her to the hospital, doctors gave her medicine and was sent home. But later that day, her girl’s skin started to puff up and her temperature soared. She was taken to another hospital where her condition deteriorated rapidly. Phoenix even had to be taken to intensive care unit. Doctors even told her that the girl may not survive.
The mother recalled: “Having to sign consent paperwork so my daughter could be put under anesthesia was horrendous.” Her skin was peeling away at that point. She was taken by helicopter to Children of Alabama Hospital in Birmingham and it is there that a dermatologist made the official diagnosis of Stevens-Johnson syndrome.
But it was not to be the end of their ordeal. Phoenix swelled so much, her hair had to be taken off, she lost all her pigment, had to rotate to three hospitals, began to look unrecognizable, and other horrors.
Slowly, the girl starting to recover. More than a month since the diseases attacked, Phoenix is able to hug her mother for the first time. She has received stem cells in a limbal stem cell allograft transplantation on her way to recovery. Such procedure involves the grafting of stem cells that have been taken from donor's eyes and grown in tissue culture. It came from her mother to gallantly save her eyesight.
It also helped that the mother and child received overwhelming support from their local community and from Phoenix’s friends. The mother is so proud of how her little girl bravely fought her disease. She said of Phoenix: “She’s so resilient, and makes the best of everything. Of course, she has her down days, but we’re all here to encourage her.”