Features — 28 February 2014 — by Adele Ramos
Siarsha, 3, struggling to survive Stevens-Johnson syndrome

The adorable Siarsha Amri Alvarez, 3, is struggling for her life at Clinica de Merida, after she developed a rare syndrome in reaction to an antibiotic she took when she fell ill last week, her grandmother, Bernadine Menzies, told Amandala today.

Siarsha, a student of Stepping Stones Preschool in Belize City, had developed Stevens-Johnson syndrome, a life-threatening disorder in which the skin and mucous membranes react severely to a medication or infection. After having been administered antibiotics last week, Siarsha’s fever worsened, and then blisters started breaking out on her tongue.

“That was the first time I realized that something was wrong,” her grandmother said, noting that this occurred towards the end of last week.

“It spread really rapidly,” she said, adding that Siarsha was in a lot of pain due to the serious inflammation that resulted from the syndrome. Amandala was unable to ascertain which antibiotic caused the syndrome.

“I think it was thick, white stuff inside [her] mouth. She could not open her mouth at all. I could not see her teeth,” the grandmother recalled.

When Siarsha left Belize, she was unable to eat or speak.

Her grandmother continued to share the tear-jerking account of the child’s suffering:

“Blisters starred coming all over her body and joining into each other. One morning, while she was in KHMH [the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital], she started [writhing in the bed]. Her lips were bleeding and the blisters were burning,” she furthermore recalled.

Siarsha’s parents were told that if all her skin peels off, she could die – so they needed to urgently take her to a facility which could treat her.

Yesterday, Siarsha was admitted to the ICU at the Merida facility. Her dad, Simeon Alvarez Jr., sanitation supervisor at the Belize City Council, has informed the grandmother that the medics there have peeled off the damaged skin and she is now on medication to treat her condition.

The family continues to request financial assistance, since the medical expenses are astronomical. The family has been told that they have to pay a $5,000 bill by the end of today, but that won’t be the end of their expenses, since it could be months before Siarsha’s skin condition heals.

The family is also hoping that a Belizean family or local host family in Merida can accommodate Siarsha’s parents, because they cannot afford the hotel expense.

Finally, the public is also being asked to pray for Siarsha, as her grandmother said that she is still hoping and praying for a miracle for her youngest grandchild.

She expressed her gratitude for all the assistance and the prayers for Siarsha.

She told us that this is the first time her granddaughter has exhibited an allergic reaction, but they are not anticipating permanent damage. They have been assured by doctors here in Belize that the condition is curable.

To avoid another episode like this, though, Siarsha will need to ensure that she does not take the same medication or any other related to it.

For progress updates, visit Alvarez’s Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/simeon.alvarez.37.

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