Bed-ridden: Lynn Credo with her mother, (centre) whom she hasn’t seen for 20 years, and friend Lisa Kingsley at Iranian Hospital

Dubai: When 38-year-old Filipina saleswoman Lynn Credo looked at her face in the mirror the morning of August 5, little did she know she would never look the same again.

A shocking reaction to a self-prescribed antibiotic led Credo to suffer from acute Steven John Syndrome, medically known as Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis. TEN, as the disease is often referred to, is a potentially life-threatening dermatologic disorder characterised by blisters and burnt skin, similar to that of a severe burn victim.

“On August 5, Lynn popped a Co-Amoxiclav Curan, an over-the-counter antibiotic for flu-like and sore throat symptoms,” says a close friend. Within a day, she had developed a rash and swelling all over her body. “At the Iranian Hospital, they diagnosed her with an allergic reaction. But within four days, her condition deteriorated. Her skin turned black and started peeling off. Her body was swollen to unimaginable proportions. Her eyes were swollen shut and her nails blackened and fell off. Every inch of her skin was shedding. Even the inside of her mouth, her throat and her uterus had blisters,” recalls friend and fund-raiser for Credo’s cause, 30-year-old British expat Lisa Kingsley.

A medical report from the Iranian Hospital states that Credo has “a case of severe Stevens Johnsons Syndrome with involvement of more than 90 per cent of skin and mucous membrane.” The report, by Dr Kiumars Bayat, a specialist in internal medicine at the Iranian Hospital, goes on to state that Credo “should be under close observation and she needs daily care for her skin and wide spectrum antibiotics.”

Today, the woman whose sense of humour and zest for life charmed friends, lies in bed barely able to speak, eat or even see; her skin and nails charred and peeling off. Her once-lively frame lies listless and helpless.

No giving up

Medically, her chances of survival or a perfect recovery are less than average. Yet for Kingsley and Credo’s closest friends and family, nothing is impossible.

“The key is to keep her morale up,” says Kingsley. “It’s her will to survive that matters more than anything at this point. Last week, she had miraculously regained her eyesight for a couple of days, and ended up seeing the state of the skin on her arms. That was such a shock for her that she gave up all hope. I got a call saying she was begging to end her life and no one could wake her up from a deep sleep. That night, we thought we’d lost her. Fortunately, she fought for survival. And everyone’s fighting alongside her to make the impossible possible. The Philippines Embassy has just flown in her mother, whom she hasn’t seen for 20 years.”

Over the past month, Credo’s medical expenses have risen to over Dh80,000, of which only Dh10,000 has been paid.

On average, it costs around Dh25,000 a week to keep her under medical care. Her medicine alone costs approximately Dh3,000 per day. “We don’t know exactly how much more money Lynn will need to survive,” says Kingsley. To make matters worse, Lynn contracted pneumonia earlier this week.

“Doctors predict at least another month of hospitalisation, which we guess would be close to Dh100,000. Then she’ll need post-hospital care, she’ll need eye surgery since she’s lost most of her vision, not to mention plastic surgery just to get her to resemble who she used to be,” says Kingsley. In order to facilitate donations, a website and Facebook page have been set up. Online donations can be made at http://www.gofundme.com/12pd5g or through her Facebook page Basics UAE.

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