One of the contestants in this year's Miss Mississippi pageant didn't think she'd make it across the stage to compete. In March Kennitra Thompson was diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening disease called Stevens Johnson Syndrome. Miraculously Thompson survived and is getting back to life before her illness.
Twenty-three year-old Kennitra Thompson knows a thing or two about winning a beauty pageant.
"I've been an experienced pageant girl for now going on I'll say 7 years," said Thompson.
As the reigning Ms. Rankin County Southwest, Kennitra's childhood dream is to be crowned Miss America. Like any Miss America hopeful, Kennitra who stands at 4 feet nine inches tall has a closet full of clothes.
She also loves to dance and teach dance and has a bright smile; but Kennitra's smile started to fade in March. She came down with what she thought was common allergies, but the symptoms progressed in the end leaving behind dark spots all over her body.
"I literally woke up and my lips were swelling and so I said I have to go to the doctor, while I was waiting to see the doctor my arms broke out in like what you would call ant bites," said Thompson.
Kennitra was treated for an allergic reaction, but nothing worked. She then remembered a new medication she'd started taking called Lamotrigine.
"I googled my medication and Stevens Johnson Syndrome came up like at an instant."
The fragile beauty queen's symptoms got worse and Thompson was admitted to UMC. UMC Dermatologist Dr. Julie Wyatt confirmed Thompson did have Stevens Johnson Syndrome. It causes your mucus membrane and skin to die to the point where it can actually peel off.
Anyone can get Stevens Johnson Syndrome. Over the counter medication as well as prescription medication cause SJS. Some of the most common medicines that cause the illness are Allopurinol, Lamotrigine, Bactrim and anti-seizure medication. Even common medicines like Tylenol can cause SJS.
In a coma for two weeks and on life support Kennitra fought for her life.
"She flat lined and then I was in there and she drifted off and saw it was just doing that and I said Kennitra, Kennitra, and I had to keep bringing her back," said Patricia Thompson, Kennitra's mom.
Miraculously, after several weeks in the hospital, the disease just stopped.
"Someway, somehow well I know it was God," said Thompson.
Despite Kennitra's cheetah spots, as she calls them, Kennitra decided last minute to compete in Miss Mississippi. Although it's a beauty pageant, she hopes you'll take your eyes off her scars and focus on her inner beauty.
"They're my warrior wounds, they make me special they don't define who I am, but they definitely tell who I've become," said Thompson.
Doctors aren't sure what causes some people to get Stevens Johnson Syndrome. Kennitra's physician, Dr. Wyatt thinks SJS patients aren't able to break down certain medicines and then they form to toxic levels.
Dr. Wyatt says when she prescribes a medicine associated with SJS she'll ask if there's a family history of the disease.
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