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Woman's Skin Falls Off, Miraculously Survives
Doctors Call Yeargain Recovery A Miracle
POSTED: 3:25 PM PST January 8, 2004
UPDATED: 11:38 AM PST January 9, 2004
SAN DIEGO -- A young Ocean Beach woman survived a severe allergic reaction that had University of California, San Diego Regional Burn Center staff scrambling to save her life, 10News reported.
Woman Lives To Tell Of Skin Sloughing
By all accounts, Sarah Yeargain, (pictured, left), shouldn't be alive. But she is and some are calling it a medical miracle.
Three weeks ago, the skin on Yeargain's body began sloughing off.
Dr. Daniel Lozano, from the UCSD Regional Burn Center, said, "She lost skin in her entire body. It's rather dramatic to really see this coming off in sheets."
Even the membrane covering her internal organs -- her eyes, mouth, and throat -- began peeling away.
"Once the skin starts to slough, there's no stopping it," Lozano said.
Yeargain said she did not know what was going on with her body.
"The cause was a rare reaction to this drug, Bactrim. It is a common antibiotic used by millions of people," Lozano explained. "What she has is a condition called TENS -- toxic epidermal necrosis -- which is an autoimmune reaction to a whole host of drugs."
Yeargain had just finished the 10-day course of Bactrim for a sinus infection when the allergic reaction began.
"I started to get some minor swelling and discoloration in my face and it progressed into blistering on lips and swelling on my eyes. It then progressed into blisters all over my face and chest and arms," Yeargain said.
Within two days, the skin on her entire body was peeling off. Doctors told Yeargain's mother, Katherine Yeargain, there was little hope for her.
"Generally with 100-percent sloughing there is a 100-percent mortality and he was optimistic. We just prayed," said Katherine Yeargain.
It was a race to save Yeargain.
Doctors covered Yeargain's entire body with an artificial skin called transcyte and gave her medications to stop the internal bleeding.
"We were able, over a 48-hour period, to cover her whole body with an artificial skin replacement that allowed this to start healing rapidly. Within about a week her skin was back," Lozano said.
"Everybody prayed and here she is," Katherine Yeargain said.
"I wasn't ready to be finished," Yeargain said.
Some, like veteran burn unit nurse Meredith Frank, called Yeargain's recovery a miracle.
"I think with the magnitude of the skin loss she had that there was a divine hand in her recovery," Frank said.
After good medicine and perhaps a miracle, Yeargain is prepared again for life.
"I'm ready to start healing and get back to it," Yeargain said.
Yeargain is home from the hospital, but she isn't about to forget the doctors and nurses who helped her survive impossible odds. She said she hopes her story will encourage people to donate money to the UCSD Burn Center.