THE story of North Nowra teenager Danika Heron and her allergic reaction to medication that almost cost her life, has made national and international impact.
Ms Heron’s story of survival appeared in the South Coast Register on July 4.
The 19-year-old, who had just started a career as an apprentice chef in Sydney, suffered a severe reaction to epilepsy medication.
The reaction left her with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, before eventually being diagnosed with Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis [TEN].
Danika had been turned away from two hospitals on a number of occasions before the correct diagnosis was made.
Doctors had made a variety of diagnoses including foot and mouth, chicken pox and measles before she was correctly diagnosed.
She was transferred by ambulance to Concord Hospital and eventually treated like a burns victim.
Her mother Carmen Heron said it was like her body had been burnt from the inside out.
“It attacks the mucus membranes. Danika had ulcers and skin peeling everywhere,” she said.
“Her lips were full of blisters and ulcers. The rash was all over her. The nurses said it was one of the worse cases they had seen in 13 years.”
With no cure, victims have to fight the disease themselves Ms Heron said. The death rate is about 45 per cent.
Mrs Heron said there was one day when the family members said their goodbyes, Mrs Heron said it was the worse day of her life.
She still suffers side effects, including joint pain, pigmentation changes to her arms and parts of her face and there is still a chance the damage to her eyes may leave her blind.
She spent three weeks in hospital and while she is now home will remain off work for at least another month.
Danika’s story travelled across the Fairfax network, featuring in a number of the company’s major papers.
On Thursday night her story was picked up by TV’s Dr Andrew Rochford.
Mrs Heron, who was by her daughter’s side throughout the horrifying ordeal, said the family was shocked when contacted by a television reporter.
“They saw Danika’s story that had appeared in the Register, on-line and further afield and contacted us,” Mrs Heron said.
“We are just so grateful that Danika is okay,” Mrs Heron said.
“We can spread the word about the dangers, and raise awareness of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome and TEN.
The family said they were “gobsmacked” when they started receiving emails and contact from the United States about the story.
“Her story has appeared on the Stevens-Johnson Syndrome pages in America and her status has been shared around the country and it is still going,” Mrs Heron said.
“It is just so important we spread awareness about these conditions.”