A three-year-old boy was recently diagnosed with an unexpected bout of chicken pox, but things took a turn for the worse when the boy began to blister across his entire body. His eyes swelled so severely that he couldn’t open them. Doctors quickly realize that they had made a horrible mistake when his face began to appear to “melt” and the boy nearly lost his life.
In Leicester, England, three-year-old Joel Greaves was diagnosed with a rare second case of the chickenpox. However, doctors quickly realized that they had made a mistake, and he was actually suffering from Steven’s Johnson Syndrome.
Steven’s Johnson Syndrome, or SJS, “is a rare but serious problem,” according to WebMD. “Most often, it’s a severe reaction to a medicine you’ve taken. It causes your skin to blister and peel off” – almost as if it is melting. The life-threatening condition required Joel to be placed on a ventilator, and he was wrapped in bandages to help heal his sore and blistered skin, according to The Sun.
Joel’s mother, Tammy, was heartbroken and terrified when doctors informed her that they couldn’t guarantee Joel would survive. “He had suffered from chicken pox once before and the symptoms were very similar, so we thought it was unlikely he would have it for a second time, but we had no idea what else it could be,” she explained. “That was until his whole body started to blister and his eyes were swollen shut.”
As a result of the illness, Joel was unrecognizable. He was forced to undergo an eight-hour operation to remove all the dead skin on his body. After nine long weeks in the hospital, he was able to go back home with his twin brother Louie and older sister Laila.
“Louie was ok for the first few weeks, but he then started to ask questions about his brother,” Tammy recalled. “It was heart-breaking that we were all separated, but Joel was so ill that I needed to be at his bedside constantly.”
Sadly, the condition caused Joel to have to re-learn how to walk, talk, and eat. Luckily, when the bandages were removed, he appeared to have minimal scars from the entire ordeal.
“I was terrified what would be underneath,” Tammy said, according to Mirror. “Despite being in pain and having sore skin for so many weeks, Joel never moaned and thankfully the condition didn’t destroy his eyesight which it can often do. I’m so proud of how far he has come, looking back I can’t believe how close we came to losing him.”
Tammy is hoping to raise awareness for SJS so that other parents may be aware of the symptoms. “Joel was one of the lucky ones, but if this condition isn’t diagnosed and treated quickly enough it can be fatal,” Tammy explained.
As a parent, it’s good to stay informed. There are many instances where a child’s life could have been saved had they been diagnosed sooner. Although we should trust our doctors, we should also do everything in our power to notice any symptoms our child has and report our concerns to their doctor for a proper diagnosis. It’s better to be over prepared, than to be sorry you hadn’t been.