NEW ORLEANS - The story of a local teen girl, whose life changed forever when she had a rare skin reaction, possibly from taking an over-the-counter pain reliever, touched many of our viewers. Well now, it's been a year since she almost lost her life, and a lot has happened since.
As the senior class of St. Mary's Academy marches in to Pomp and Circumstance, there's anticipation and excitement in the Bindom family. Graduations are always special for loved ones, but this one is different. It almost didn't happen.
Last summer after her junior year, the burn unit at Baton Rouge General Hospital was Jasmin Bindom's home. The skin on her entire body looked like major burns. Her hair and nails were gone. Her body, three times its size and she was breathing on a ventilator. Doctors put her in a coma.
"Jasmin say when she was sedated, she would have these weird dreams and she would yell for me and call for me and I wasn't there and I couldn't hold her. I couldn't take her hand or anything," her mother Patricia Bindom cried when we talked to her in September.
"Well I never, ever thought that it would be something like this. I just thought it was chicken pox or something, I guess, or an allergic reaction," Jasmin said back in September.
What happened to Jasmin is called TEN (toxic epidermal necrolysis), the most aggressive form of Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS). Your own immune system literally attacks the outer layer of skin. It was the worst case doctors had seen. In some cases, antibiotics are the cause. In Jasmin's case, was it the Extra Strength Tylenol or Motrin she took, or did she have a virus? Doctors are not sure. Half of the time, the cause is never known.
When our first story ran in November, Jasmin was uncomfortable in public, or letting you see her face. But with the help of dedicated friends and family, her sister Daphne, the nuns and teachers at St. Mary's Academy, and doctors who began treating her scars and skin, Jasmin's spirit is coming back.
"I'm happy. When I look at her sometimes I cry. And I told her today, I wasn't going to cry. She asked me and I said I wasn't going to cry. But just the principle or just to see this child fighting to survive and to see her today walking and talking and laughing and doing everything she once did before this all happened, it's amazing. It's a blessing," said Patricia through tears last week.
Jasmin had to catch up in school. This fall, she's going to the University of Southern Mississippi, rooming with some high school friends. At times she's confident enough to go without her wig and makeup. Now, at only 17, she feels called to heal others.
"Well at first, before this happened, I wanted to be a anesthesiologist but like, since all this stuff happened with my skin, I just decided to be a dermatologist," said Jasmin.
WWL-TV viewers, her school and church, St. Joseph the Worker, put on fundraisers for her enormous medical bills. Bikers did a ride. People donated to an account in her name at Regions Bank. Admiration came from complete strangers who saw her in public. Patricia remembers one student from Ursuline Academy who stopped them while they were out shopping.
"Tears was falling from her eyes and she said, 'Jasmin, you are such an inspiration to me. You are such an inspiration to me.' And she just started crying and crying and she hugged Jasmin. I have never ran across anyone that treated my child differently. Never. And that was one of the things that I did fear," said her mother.
Thursday night was a time for celebration of an accomplishment in the face of great adversity, when a beautiful, young woman walked across the stage in front of hundreds.
"Miss Jasmin Renee' Bindom," called out the commencement announcer as the crowd cheered and clapped loudly while Jasmin got her diploma.
It's hard to believe among all of this pomp and circumstance now that Jasmin has that diploma in her hands and a future ahead of her, that it was just one year ago this May that she lay in a coma in a burn unit fighting for her life.
"Just a true blessing. Again, it's going to be a remarkable day for her and also the family and all the people that supported her through all this. I just want to say thank you to everyone that's been a support," said her father David Bindom.
Nationally known dermatologist Dr. Elizabeth McBurney will treat Jasmin's scarred skin in Slidell. She has hope, but there are limitations.
"I think she understands this that the scars are not going to be completely gone. What we're hoping to do is flatten them out to make them smooth,but she will still have scars on all of these areas, they just won't be these raised, red, tender, painful nodules that she has now," said Dr. McBurney who is the past president of both the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery and the Women's Dermatologic Society.
Jasmin also keliods. Her body makes too much scar tissue when healing. Dr. McBurney plans to use the CO2 and Pulsed Dye Lasers as well as steroid injections on the scars while Jasmin is under anesthesia. Her hair is coming back but she is not sure all of her pigment will. But there is a new treatment being used in Great Britain that decreases the formation of keloid tissue called Avotermin. So Dr. McBurney hopes to get Jasmin in that clinical trial since it is not available in the U.S.
"It's very exciting work and it's really the first thing that has come out in recent years that makes a significant difference with scars," said Dr. McBurney.
When asked if she believes in her heart that she will have a full, normal life and career and a family one day, Jasmin answers, "Yeah. I didn't think it would happen but now I do. Now that I go to dermatologists and they tell me things are going to get better."
Before the girls march out of the gym, they sing the school's alma mater.
Medical Watch has been in touch with Jasmin's insurance company, Blue Cross of Illinois. She was just given approval for all of the laser treatments. They will begin in June. She will need three to six treatments that will also help with pain and restore movement and function.
You can donate to her health-care fund called "Team Jasmin SJS" at any Regions Bank.
For more on SJS, go to http://www.sjsupport.org/.www.sjsupport.org/
For a list of antibiotics and other medications that are associated with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome and TEN, go to http://www.mediafact.com/sjs/drug-list.php.