Children's Health

Baby with devastating skin disease saved by 20-hour blood transfusions

(Central European News)

(Central European News)

An 18-month-old baby in China was in critical condition due to a skin wasting disease, but he survived thanks to a month of almost non-stop blood transfusions for up to 20 hours a day, Central European News (CEN) reported.

Wan Junhao suffers from toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), which affects less than one in a million people. His parents rushed him to the hospital when his skin started turning black and falling off.

"To think that a week earlier we had been delighting in the fact that he was starting to communicate with us, pointing at his mouth when he was hungry. And then suddenly he is in the intensive care ward fighting for his life and suffering,” his mother, Gan Meiying, 28, told CEN. “I wish I could have taken the suffering myself. There was scabs and bubbles all over his body. It broke my heart."

Because TEN causes the skin to die, sufferers are in exactly the same position as somebody who has suffered 100 percent burns to the body. Like serious burn victims, death usually occurs as a result of sepsis and subsequent multi-organ system failures.

The boy’s entire body was an open wound, leaving the risk of infection extremely high. Doctors were unsure if they could start to repair his skin before he got infected.

Thanks to pictures in local media of the boy being treated at Qilu Hospital in Jinan, the capital city of China’s Shandong province, the family has been flooded with offers of support and donations that paid the medical costs— including the frequent blood transfusions needed to prevent serious infections.

Now, with a month of blood transfusions, little Junhao is well on the road to recovery.

The exact cause of the rare condition is unclear, CEN reported. It’s thought to be caused either by certain medication or a viral infection, but it has also been linked to the MR vaccine— which provides immunity from measles and rubella— that all children in China receive the first dose of at eight months.