The Washington Times-Herald

Local News

January 28, 2014

She's got heart

Area student excels in spite of rare illness

Kenzi Lunsford is your typical 12-year-old junior high student. She plays basketball at Washington Junior High and likes to hang out with her friends. But one thing sets Kenzie apart from thousands of other kids her age. She has Kawasaki disease, a serious medical condition that inflames the blood vessels and is the leading cause of heart disease in children.

In 2011, Kenzie developed two spots on her stomach. Not wanting the spots to spread, her mom, Nikki, took her to the doctor and Kenzie was diagnosed with what doctors thought was Fifths disease, a common ailment in children.

Kenzie was prescribed antibiotics but then she started developing severe headaches.

“Her headaches were so bad, she couldn’t stand lights or sound,” said Nikki. “So I took her to the emergency room for the headaches and by then, she was dehydrated and her liver enzymes were raised.”

A battery of tests were run on Kenzie at Daviess Community Hospital but the headaches persisted.

“I knew something was really wrong,” said Nikki. “I just had this feeling that what Kenzie had wasn’t Fifths disease.”

In addition to the headaches, Kenzie also had an extremely high fever and the rash had spread to the whites of her eyes. Her lymph nodes were also swollen.

A return trip to her doctor’s office in Vincennes. It was there that a physician’s assistant first told the Lunsford’s about Kawasaki disease.

“They told us we needed to go to St. Mary’s in Evansville and that we had 10 days to start treatment,” Nikki said.

Kawasaki disease is more prevalent among children under the age of five and is more common in boys than girls.

“The cause of Kawasaki is unknown,” said Nikki. “But it is believed to be caused by a virus. There’s also no specific test they can do to confirm the disease.”

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