“We never even thought what was going on with him could have been an allergic reaction because he had been on it for 12 days. I was giving him the very thing that was killing him and had no idea.”
Mandy Suzanne Smith’s ordeal began when she picked up her son Zachary from school. He complained that he was having an allergic reaction to Poison Oak; both his foot and eyes were itchy.
The next day, his symptoms worsened, his rashes had spread to his torso and was now running a fever.
At the hospital, the doctors thought that what Zachary was suffering from was a viral infection, but none of the medications prescribed him seemed to work.
At this point Zachary’s eyes were blood shot red, and his lips began to crack and peel.
Eventually the doctors discovered that he had SJS (Stevens Johnson syndrome), a life-threatening skin condition in which cell death causes the epidermis to separate from the dermis.
Although SJS can come from infections and, rarely, cancers; certain medications can also cause the condition—the most infamous of which is lamotrigine, a medication used for the treatment of epilepsy and bipolar disorder.
As it happened, Zachary had been taking lamotrigine for 12 days to combat a migraine.
“We never even thought what was going on with him could have been an allergic reaction because he had been on it for 12 days,” Mandy said on her Facebook post.
“So I thought surely if he was having some type of reaction to it then it would have happened the first night that he had taken it. I was giving him the very thing that was killing him and had no idea.”
A dermatologist did a biopsy on Zachary, which revealed more bad news. The SJS had morphed into TEN (Toxic epidermal necrolysis).
The disease causes the top layer of skin to detach from the lower layers of the skin all over the body, leaving the body susceptible to severe infection.
A transfer was arranged to hospital better equipped to handle SJS/TENS. At this point, Zachary’s skin had begun to blister and bubble up and was coming off.
He screamed and cried the entire ride.
At the hospital doctors put Zachary in a medically induced coma, removed his skin in during surgery, and then would wrap him in a material called biobrane while his new skin grew back under it.
“The only question I could ask the doctor was ‘is he going to make it?’” Mandy said. “And when his answer was ‘I don’t know’ that killed me even more.”
Back at the hotel they were staying, Mandy saw a on the desk a Bible opened to John 9, a story about how Jesus had healed a blind man.
“I knew this was the lord telling me, ‘I’ve got this, put your faith in me and I will deliver’ and that is exactly what he did.
Almost 90% of Zachary’s body was affected; he also had infection in his lungs. Miraculously, he survived. A month has passed, and Zachary is healing well.
“If that’s not the work of God then I just don’t know what is,” Mandy said. “I know that we all think nothing like this can ever happen to us or our children, but it can. You never know what situation you might find yourself in, but no matter the situation, give it to God.”
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