Kennitra Thompson, 23, seemed to have everything going for her. The 4-foot-9-inch bundle of energy, talent and drive was well on her way to fulfilling her dreams and preparing to compete in the Miss Mississippi pageant when fate took an ugly turn.
A month after being named Miss Rankin County Southwest in March, the JSU communications major awoke one morning with sniffles. “I thought I was coming down with a cold,” she says. A few days later, she lay in a coma on life support at University of Mississippi Medical Center. Her small but athletic dancer’s body was rapidly, and literally, destroying itself.
“It was as though my body was being burned from the inside out,” says Thompson, who had fallen victim to the rare and usually fatal disease Stevens- Johnson Syndrome, an extreme allergic reaction to a medication. Even something as simple as a widely used over-the-counter medication can trigger the disease. There is no one medication that causes it, and there is no cure, she says.
Her every organ was affected, and huge blisters formed all over her body as her top layer of skin died and shed. Her immune system was nearly destroyed.