Thursday, August 15, 2013
7 News Features: Without Warning
Imagine one minute you're perfectly healthy, and the next you've lost your eyesight ... and your ability to walk. It happened to a South Florida teenager who was suddenly struck with a rare disease. 7's Robbin Simmons shows us how her life was changed Without Warning.
WSVN -- Just a month ago, 17-year-old Jazzmin Peluchette was the picture of health. The high school senior was already taking college classes at Florida International University and excelling at her favorite sports.
Alba Suarez, Jazzmin's mom: "Really, really healthy girl. She loves to work out, she loves to do sports."
But on July 10th, the teenager's life was suddenly turned upside down.
Jazzmin Peluchette : "Well, that day I woke up and I felt fine. And then the next minute, I had ripping pain through my back, my chest. I got home and just started throwing up."
Jazzmin was admitted to Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital, where things got worse. Suddenly, she could not see, she could not open her hands, and then she was paralyzed from the waist down.
Natalie Peluchette, Jazzmin's sister: "She's just a strong girl, so full of life. You would never imagine this to happen."
A large team of doctors did dozens of tests trying to find out what was wrong. Eventually, they figured out she has a very rare, autoimmune disease. Her body is basically attacking itself.
Dr. Eric Exelbert, Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital: "She was diagnosed with something that we like to call NMO, which stands for Neuromyelitis Optica Disease. Neuro, meaning it involves the nerves; myelitis, meaning spinal cord; and optica, in that it involves her vision. In pediatrics, this is the first case that I've ever seen."
How Jazzmin got the disease, or what triggered it, remains a mystery.
Dr. Eric Exelbert: "A lot of the autoimmune disorders, we don't always know how they get caused. Some people think that some of these things are caused by a simple virus, and we might be predisposed to some of these things."
Alba Suarez: "Heart-wrenching. We don't have the answers, that we'd like to know."
Jazzmin has undergone a variety of treatments, and has seen some improvement in her eyes and hands.
Jazzmin Peluchette: "Slowly but surely, I could start to open them. I still have two fingers that do their own thing. My right eye, I can only see figures out of it. Everything is kind of black, but my left eye is kind of dominant."
But so far, nothing has cured her paralysis.
Jazzmin Peluchette: "I have no movement in my legs right now. There's nothing. I'm paralyzed, basically."
The teenager has started aggressive physical therapy, and even though doctors don't know if she will ever walk again, her family is confident she will.
Alba Suarez: "She asked me, 'Am I going to walk again?' and I said, 'Yes, you will walk again,' because I put it in the hands of God. I'm keeping strong, because I know she is going to be the exception."
And Jazzmin has faith that she will get her miracle.
Jazzmin Peluchette: "To be me again, to walk again, to go back to how my life was again. I'm not going to stop until I'm better. One hundred percent."
Robin Simmons, 7News.
More good news: Jazzmin just regained feeling in her lower back. If you want to follow her progress, or just send her encouraging thoughts, she has a public Facebook page, as well as a fundraising page.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Jazzmin Peluchette Treatment Fund, Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JazzminPeluchettetreatmentfund
Jazzmin Peluchette Treatment Fund, GiveForward.com page: https://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/fqq2/bestrongjazz