FIGHTER: Alexis was hooked up to a feeding and breathing tube after her reaction.
FIGHTER: Alexis was hooked up to a feeding and breathing tube after her reaction. Contributed

Little warrior's fight for life after rare allergic reaction

ALEXIS Trusz's organs are failing and both her lungs have collapsed, but the "little warrior" is fighting back from one of the worst allergic reactions staff at a major hospital have ever seen.

Two months ago the eight-year-old was a "normal, healthy girl", but a massive seizure and rare allergic reaction to anti-seizure medication has left her hooked up to monitors at Queensland Children's Hospital.

Alexis's mother Casey Sherwood can still feel the weight of her daughter convulsing in her arms as she held her for 18 minutes waiting for paramedics.

"I've never experienced anything like it... every time I think about it, it all floods back," she said.

Casey Sherwood with her daughter, Alexis.
Casey Sherwood with her daughter, Alexis. Contributed

Weeks later, Alexis's skin flared up, blisters covered her body and her organs started to fail after a severe reaction to anti-seizure medication Tegratol, resulting in Drug Rash with Eosinophilia and Systemic Symptoms (DRESS) Syndrome.

DRESS is a hypersensitivity reaction, commonly manifesting two to eight weeks after starting the offending medicine with an estimated mortality rate of up to 10 per cent.

Alexis has been in hospital more than two weeks and only recently was able to sit up.
Alexis has been in hospital more than two weeks and only recently was able to sit up. Contributed

What is DRESS Syndrome?

  • A severe reaction to a drug with an estimated mortality rate of up to 10 per cent
  • Early recognition of symptoms is vital to minimise morbidity and mortality
  • The extent of skin involvement and its severity does not always correlate with the extent of internal organ involvement
  • Drugs most commonly associated with DRESS are anticonvulsants, allopurinol, antibiotics, antiretrovirals
  • The risk of DRESS may be as high as 25 per cent for individuals who have a first degree relative who has experienced this syndrome
Blisters formed over her entire body in a reaction to anti-seizure medication.
Blisters formed over her entire body in a reaction to anti-seizure medication. Contributed

Ms Sherwood said even the weight of the hospital blanket left bruises on Alexis's sensitive skin and drips "fell out" of her swollen veins.

"I haven't left the hospital... we are taking it day by day," the 34-year-old said.

Alexis was a happy and healthy eight year old girl before a random seizure changed her life.
Alexis was a happy and healthy eight year old girl before a random seizure changed her life. Contributed

After spending 18 days in hospital, Alexis's skin condition finally started to subside but doctors were concerned about her internal organs, especially her lungs and liver.

Ms Sherwood said doctors at the hospital had "never seen" DRESS Syndrome to this extent.

Alexis's face swelled and blisters started to appear days after her massive seizure.
Alexis's face swelled and blisters started to appear days after her massive seizure. Contributed

In an effort to help out the young family, friend Tracey Baughman set up a GoFundMe page to lighten the load on the family of five.

"I wanted to help make life just that little bit easier... I've had sick children and it is so stressful," she said.

"She's not out of the woods yet but we have a lot of hope."

Ms Sherwood said the generosity blew her mind and they would use the funds to help with travel costs from Caboolture.

To donate, click here.



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