Miss Mississippi contestant defeats deadly disease - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Miss Mississippi contestant defeats deadly disease

Kennitra fell into a coma and for two weeks, was on life support. Kennitra fell into a coma and for two weeks, was on life support.
In March, Kennitra Thompson was diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening disease called Stevens-Johnson Syndrome. In March, Kennitra Thompson was diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening disease called Stevens-Johnson Syndrome.
After several weeks in the hospital, the disease just stopped.  Kennitra decided last minute to compete in Miss Mississippi. After several weeks in the hospital, the disease just stopped. Kennitra decided last minute to compete in Miss Mississippi.
JACKSON, MS -

(WMC-TV) - One of the contestants in this year's Miss Mississippi pageant didn't think she would even 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.

Thompson, 23, knows a thing or two about winning a beauty pageant.

"I've been an experienced pageant girl for now going on I'll say seven years," she said.

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 9 inches, has a closet full of clothes.

She also loves to 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 and eventually left 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'," she explained. "While I was waiting to see the doctor my arms broke out in like what you would call ant bites."

Kennitra was treated for an allergic reaction, but that treatment did not work. She then remembered a new medication she had started taking called Lamotrigine.

"I googled my medication and Stevens-Johnson Syndrome came up like at an instant," she said.

The fragile beauty queen's symptoms got worse and she was eventually 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 from over the counter medication as well as prescriptions.

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.

Kennitra fell into a coma and for two weeks, was on life support.

"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 the beauty queen's mother.

After several weeks in the hospital, the disease just stopped.

"Someway, somehow, well, I know it was God," said Kennitra.

Despite her "cheetah spots", as she calls them, Kennitra decided last minute to compete in Miss Mississippi. Although it's a beauty pageant, she hoped viewers would take their eyes off of 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," she said.

Doctors are still not sure what causes some people to get Stevens-Johnson Syndrome. Kennitra's physician, Dr. Wyatt, thinks SJS patients are  not able to break down certain medicines causing them to form to toxic levels.

Dr. Wyatt says when she prescribes a medicine associated with SJS, she will ask if there's a family history of the disease.

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